Raila trap for ODM rivals
Prime Minister Raila Odinga funded a retired general in an elaborate political plot to keep William Ruto from taking over the United Democratic Movement, a former aide claims in a new book.
Mr Miguna Miguna, the PM’s former advisor on coalition affairs, writes that he was part of a plan in which Mr Odinga gave retired General John Koech money to fight the Eldoret North MP.
The political plot was an ODM project on which Miguna worked with Nairobi lawyer Mugambi Imanyara.
“As Ruto announced that he would run for the presidency on the UDM ticket, we resolved to lock him out of both parties.
“Our first strategy was to ensure that Gen Koech clung onto the UDM chairmanship in order to prevent Ruto from taking over the party,” Mr Miguna wrote.
This, he adds, was done through Gen Koech filing a petition with the Political Parties Tribunal, challenging Mr Ruto’s “irregular takeover of UDM”.
Mr Ruto was forced to retain lawyers for a battle with Gen Koech at the tribunal and the High Court, Miguna writes.
Out of frustration arising from the cases, Mr Ruto abandoned UDM and registered his own United Republican Party on whose ticket he is now gunning for the
Miguna claims Mr Odinga funded Gen Koech’s litigation through Orange House, the ODM national office. On Wednesday, Gen Koech dismissed the claims, saying: “It’s total propaganda. There was nothing of the sort.’’
The former advisor also reveals that ODM secretly funded Ikolomani MP Boni Khalwale in a by-election last year after he lost his seat through a petition.
A strategy meeting was called at which some argued that the party should support Dr Khalwale because he was unbeatable and that his victory would also be ODM’s.
The party’s deputy leader, Mr Musalia Mudavadi, he says, was not in the know about these discussions.
There had been talk at the time that Mr Odinga’s secret strategy was to show Mr Mudavadi as weak in his own backyard and therefore incapable of challenging him for the ODM presidential ticket or even being his running mate in next year’s elections. Miguna claims he opposed the suggestion, arguing that weakening Mr Mudavadi would have adverse effects on ODM.
“Luckily the meeting agreed and minutes after it ended, I received a telephone call from Mudavadi’s private secretary, Kibisu Kabatesi, thanking me for standing up for the DPM. That proved to me not just that my arguments were correct, but also that our team was an open sieve.”
The party fielded a candidate, Mr Ben Shinali, belatedly but Miguna writes senior ODM officials continued secretly channeling funds to Dr Khalwale.
Mr Kabatesi on Wednesday confirmed that he spoke to Mr Miguna about the Ikolomani debacle, which he described as a ploy for ODM to lose then portray Mr Mudavadi as weak.
“And that is exactly what they did. It was part of a long strategy to push DPM to the periphery with the objective that a weakened DPM could not challenge Raila,’’ Mr Kabatesi said.
He claimed that the meetings to raise money for Dr Khalwale were spearheaded by Cabinet ministers Fred Gumo and Wycliffe Oparanya.In the book, Mr Miguna says that in an effort to stamp down the Ruto rebellion, ODM plotted to scare off some of his supporters.
MPs in his camp thought to be weak in their constituencies, such as Adan Dualle and Joshua Kuttuny, were to be threatened with by-elections.
When this failed, an attempt was made to take the matter to court, but it was not clear whether Mr Ruto was to be personally targeted or whether only his supporters would be subjected to pressure, says Mr Miguna.
Later, when the Miguna team decided to take Mr Ruto head-on by enjoining the Eldoret North MP in the suit filed by ODM supporters to have them kicked out of Parliament, the party’s leadership, including Mr Odinga, disowned them, Mr Miguna claims.
He paints a picture of a fractured party leadership with officials flip flopping on important decisions and at times contributing to unrest in the party.
He claims close family members, friends and power brokers of top ODM leaders mishandle important personalities in the party, disregarding the need to ensure key voting blocs are nurtured.
ODM Cabinet ministers Sally Kosgei and Franklin Bett , and Tinderet MP Henry Kosgey are unhappy with the party, he claims.
Mr Mudavadi, described in glowing terms as “patient, quiet, analytical and a gentleman”, is said to have been quietly enjoying the fallout between Mr Odinga and Mr Ruto in the knowledge that a rival was being dealt with.
Mr Miguna traces the origin of rebellions in ODM to the formation of the party’s half of the Cabinet to join President Kibaki, Mr Odinga’s role in the Mau evictions and mistreatment of ministers by influential personalities close to the PM.
Mr Ruto is said to have been unhappy with the retention of Mr Mudavadi as Mr Odinga’s de facto deputy when ODM ministers were named.
He says: “Initially, Ruto couldn’t come out openly and challenge the appointment of Mudavadi. To begin with, Mudavadi’s appointment as deputy party leader was by virtue of the fact that he obtained the second highest number of votes to Raila’s votes during the ODM presidential nominations,” an exercise, he adds, that was heavily rigged.
According to Mr Miguna, Mr Ruto felt that the 1.5 million votes cast for Mr Odinga in the Rift Valley, compared to the 800,000 from Mr Mudavadi’s Western Province, warranted him to get something bigger than the agriculture docket.
“Ruto is charismatic, articulate, hardworking, rumbustious and ambitious. He is also extremely restless. Unlike both Raila and Mudavadi, he is also a teetotaller, and thus less distracted from political campaigning,” Mr Miguna says.
He adds: “From mid-2008 until the end of 2009, when a decision was made to accommodate him, Ruto engaged in a political carpet bombing of Raila.”