Details have emerged on President Uhuru Kenyatta’s hand in Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka’s last-minute decision to attend interviews for Raila Odinga’s running mate position.
Yesterday, the former vice president faced Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party seven-member panel as the search for the Odinga running mate entered day two. He had earlier protested against being interviewed for the position arguing that he is the most suitable candidate.
Kahawa Tungu has learned of intrigues behind the scenes that apparently influenced Musyoka’s change of heart.
Sources familiar with the developments intimated that President Kenyatta made a last-minute phone call to Musyoka on Monday and prodded the Wiper boss to face the panel, to avoid divisions in the Azimio camp ahead of the August General Election.
During the call, the Head of State, who doubles up as the Azimio Council Chairperson, told Musyoka that if he snubbed the panel chances of him being picked to deputise the ODM leader would be minimal.
The President, the sources said, was particularly concerned that Musyoka’s absence would send the wrong signal to supporters, having attended a meeting where the Azimio Council resolved to use the panel to settle on Odinga’s deputy.
After lengthy deliberations, Musyoka opted to attend the interviews.
Addressing members of the press after the two-hour interview at Serena Hotel in Nairobi, Musyoka said he faced the panel on his own volution.
He said he opted to participate in the process so as not to give anyone an excuse not to consider him for the post.
“The decision to come was my decision because I realized we didn’t want to give anyone an excuse whatsoever to say aligomea (I refused to turn up),” said Musyoka, adding “It has been a wonderful conversation.”
He also said he made the decision out of respect for senior members of the panel including members of the clergy leading the process.
“Wazee kama Bishop Peter Njenga, Archbishop Zaccheus Okoth… I looked at that in my own mind and said why would not want to greet bishop Okoth at his age. I had to take that decision,” he added.
For months now, Musyoka has been insisting that he is the most suitable candidate to deputise Odinga having run as the ODM party leader’s running mate twice, in 2013 and 2017.
Attending the interviews, Musyoka said, would be demeaning for a politician of his statue.
“I want to tell all Kenyans that I will not attend the said process. I find the entire thing demeaning to my person and will therefore distance myself from it,” Musyoka said.
Some of the big shots that attended the interviews were Narc Kenya party leader Martha Karua, Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho and Murang’a Woman Representative Sabina Chege.
Others are Agriculture CS Peter Munya, former Kenyan Ambassador to Australia Stephen Tarus, Kakamega County Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui and former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth.
Sources close to Uhuru and Odinga said those who will not be picked for the post will be considered for plum state jobs.