, MOMBASA, Kenya, Oct 24 – Tourism minister Najib Balala has thrown his weight behind his cabinet colleague William Ruto for presidency on an Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) ticket in 2012.
The minister who appears to have broken ranks with ODM party leader Raila Odinga said the days of political dictatorship were gone and all party leaders had a right to eye the party’s ticket for presidency.
“There is no short cut to democracy and all ODM candidates wishing to vie for Presidency on an ODM ticket will undergo party nominations to determine the party’s torch bearer in the 2012 general election," said Mr Balala.
He told journalists in Mombasa that the Agriculture minister was within his democratic right to seek presidency on an ODM ticket since the party has no automatic candidate.
The Tourism minister termed those opposing Mr Ruto’s bid for the top seat as enemies of democracy.
"ODM is a national party and no leader should reduce ODM to be a regional or tribal party," he said.
Mr Balala accused a section of legislators of being a stumbling block to Mr Ruto’s State House bid on an ODM ticket.
“Party members must ensure democracy prevails during the party’s presidential nominations ahead of the 2012 general election,” he said.
The Mvita MP asked his Eldoret North counterpart not to quit ODM and instead fight from within since it was his democratic right to aspire to be the party’s flag bearer during the next presidential election.
There have been reports that Mr Odinga is about to reconstitute his political team in the Coast province ahead of the 2012 elections by replacing Mr Balala with Kisauni MP Ali Hassan Joho as the ODM chief for the region.
Close allies of Mr Odinga have in the past accused Mr Balala of not doing enough to popularise the party at the coast province.