, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 28 – As politicians clamour to finalise coalition agreements before the December 4 deadline, presidential aspirants Peter Kenneth and Raphael Tuju met for lunch at an upscale Nairobi hotel in what Kenneth says is among the first in a series of meetings between the two.
“Both campaign teams have realised the need to work together. That’s what we are looking at. This is a series of meetings and we have said it is not about individuals.”
Tuju who is running on a Party of Action ticket (POA) accused other parties of playing tribal politics in their alliance formation negotiations.
“We are a country which is under threat of being very polarised as we go into these elections. We could be more polarised than we were in 2007.”
“Unfortunately in the political discourse that we are having at the moment, it is mainly a discourse that is based on tribal alliances, ethnic alliances and myself and Peter believe that that is not going to help this country.”
While admitting they were in talks, Kenneth was keen to downplay the chances of their forming a coalition before the Tuesday deadline for political parties to file coalition agreements with the registrar of political parties.
“The campaign teams from both sides appreciate that there are values and there are issues and they need to be tackled as we go toward March 4th. Between now and March 4th we are seeing on how we can work together towards giving Kenyans the widest choice to elect from.
Article 13 of the Political Parties Act states that, ‘Where two or more political parties resolve to form a coalition before or after an election, the instruments of the coalition agreement shall be deposited with the Registrar for the purposes of arbitration between the coalition parties.’
Ronald Osumba, a key player in Kenneth’s campaign team and the convener of the meeting between the two presidential aspirants, said ‘like-minded’ parties were not locked out of the negotiations and could still join in.
“This lunch is just a series of many conversations that they have been having to discuss the common and shared values that they have and we have had a number of people who are saying we want to see mheshimiwa Peter Kenneth and Raphael Tuju having a conversation.”
Tuju, a former minister and advisor to President Mwai Kibaki, launched his presidential bid in February. Kenneth formally launched his bid on a Kenya National Congress ticket early this month.
As with other political parties, the two leaders are in the race for the crucial youth vote given the 2010 census showed that 75 percent of the Kenyan population is under 30 years of age.
“The real problems that we need to be sorting out are the problems of youth unemployment, security, which is connected to youth unemployment, poverty which is also connected to youth unemployment. Those are the issues that bring us together.”