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Sunday, July 29th, 2018

 

Governor Obado criticised over 'no Ochillo Ayacko' stance

By NATION TEAM
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ODM officials have threatened to take disciplinary action against Migori Governor Okoth Obado for opposing the party’s decision to directly nominate former cabinet minister Ochillo Ayacko as its candidate for the vacant Senate seat.

The move comes as the party announced that it will lay out an elaborate campaign machinery to recapture the seat left vacant by the death of former Senator Ben Oluoch-Okello two months ago.

This follows reports that at least four candidates, who unsuccessfully sought the Orange ticket, had expressed the desire to either seek the seat as independent candidates or move to other parties altogether.

On Sunday, Suna East MP Junet Mohamed, also the Orange party’s director of elections, said the party will mount vigorous campaigns in the Migori’s eight sub counties.

“This is an ODM zone and if anybody thinks he can outsmart us, he will be shocked,” he said.

CAMPAIGN TEAMS

Sources indicated that the party is set to form at least five different campaign teams, to be led by MPs, that will pitch camp in different areas to seek votes.

And the political dynamics in the cosmopolitan county is informing some of the campaign plans, with different messages being put up for different regions. Migori has the Luo, Luhya, Kuria and Somali communities in sizeable numbers.

The Raila Odinga-led party last Friday handed Mr Ayacko, out of eight candidates who had applied, a direct ticket to go for the seat in the October 8 by-election.

This occurred only hours after Ayacko’s election petition at the Kisumu Court of Appeal, against Obado’s win was thrown out with Sh4.5 million costs on him.

But the decision was opposed by Mr Obado, who further called on residents to reject the candidate as he was being ‘forced onto the electorate’ by a clique of individuals from Nairobi.

However, speaking during a fundraiser in Suna West, Mr Mohamed and director of political affairs Opiyo Wandayi, slammed the governor, calling him a traitor.

“We will not accept traitors in the party. It cannot be that you are happy when you are given an ODM ticket to run for office but you get angry when someone else is given,” said Mr Mohamed.

He added: “If you oppose ODM in Migori, we shall fight you ferociously. You cannot win an election using the party and then you start running around speaking ill of it afterwards. We shall teach you a lesson, just wait and see.”

Mr Wandayi said the party leadership will sit and decide on the disciplinary action to be meted out on Governor Obado for going against the party.

“Anybody else can oppose Ayacko, but if you are a member of ODM regardless of the position you hold or your stature in life, we shall not hesitate to take disciplinary action and you will be surprised,” Mr Wandayi, who is also the Unguja MP, said.

Mr Wandayi added: “We will not tolerate or spare absurd politicians who are humble when seeking the party ticket and turn into political hyenas after being elected. We are going to initiate a process of disciplining party rebels and deviants.”

SUPPORT OCHILLO

Suna West MP Peter Masara and Migori Woman Representative Pamela Odhiambo urged ODM politicians to respect the party and rally behind Mr Ochillo.

“We as ODM family fraternity must rally behind the party in the upcoming by-election. We must demonstrate our loyalty by supporting Mr Ochillo,” said Mrs Odhiambo.

The governor, however said the same ODM leaders attacking him for going against the party ignored him despite being its candidate on August 8 and supported an independent candidate.

“Despite having the ODM ticket the same leaders who have been claiming I am against the party and my leader Raila Odinga openly campaigned against me, no finger was raised against them. I won’t be intimidated,” Mr Obado said.

LIFE MEMBER

He said leaders claiming to be the senior members of ODM and closest to Mr Odinga in Migori county should first face disciplinary action for supporting independent candidates in last elections before pointing a finger at him.

Meanwhile, in Homa Bay county, former Kasipul MP Oyugi Magwanga announced that he will contest on an ODM ticket if a gubernatorial by-election is held in the county. 

During a fundraiser over the weekend, Mr Magwanga announced that he is ready to contest the party’s ticket for the Homa Bay gubernatorial seat because he is a life member of the party.

Reports by Vivere Nandiemo, Elisha Otieno and Barack Oduor


Sony Sugar on the spot over alleged theft of Sh335m

By STELLA CHERONO
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The South Nyanza Sugar Company (Sony Sugar) is on the spot over alleged misappropriation of a Sh335million loan secured from the Commodities Fund last year.

The company got the cash from the agricultural sector financier but has not done the intended Annual Planned Maintenance of the factory and its auxiliary facilities, and only Sh607,007 is remaining as balance, while part of the money was diverted to fund other activities.

Although the company was expected to have commenced servicing the loan, it has not started paying, and has accrued interests. The bank guarantee also expires in seven months, with trustees fearing that the maintenance process may not be completed.

The state corporation applied for funding on January, 26, 2016, to enable it undertake Annual Planned Maintenance of the factory and its auxiliary facilities, an application that was approved by the Ministry of Agriculture on September, 26, 2016.

BANK GUARANTEE

A bank guarantee secured the loan, and disbursed the funds in three tranches in March, April and May, 2017. This would be the first time the corporation would receive a loan since 2009.

The company has been using internally generated funds.

The loan was meant to enable the company optimize the cane yard, improve steam generation and improve extraction and boiling facilities among others, an exercise that was slated to cost Sh402 million but the company projected that it would raise Sh67million for the same.

Although the initial plan was to have the APM conducted mid-May, the Ministry of Agriculture through the Agriculture and Food Authority – Sugar Directorate postponed the activities because there was a sugar shortage in the country.

The proposal was to have the exercise conducted in September and October 2017.

The company on October 3, again rescheduled the exercise, stating that it “shall be done anytime between December 2017 and February 2018.

OPERATIONAL REALITIES

This is based on operational realities and the need to bring in overseas contractors and the anxiety around the post-elections events around Migori.”

This is despite the fact that the Commodities Fund, in a letter dated January 18, 2018, notified Sony Sugar that the Cooperative Bank guarantee provided as the Security for the loan would expire on February, 24, 2018.

In its reply, the sugar company negotiated with the bank and the guarantee was renewed and up-scaled by Sh754,844 on March 2018, to cover interests up to June 30,2018, since payment of monthly instalments was expected to start before the end of June 2018.

EVALUATION EXERCISE

Because of the delays, the Board of Trustees resolved that the management would undertake a monitoring and evaluation exercise to establish if the maintenance had been done and the status of the project.

The monitoring and evaluation team, in its audit report, stated that the company made 12 bulk withdrawals totalling Sh238,652,378 to its bank accounts, on diverse dates between November 2017 and March 2018.

A review of the bank statements showed that not all the purchase orders indicated in the procurement status report were reflected in the bank statement and vice-versa.


Schools ‘to close early’ as cash crunch bites

By COLLINS OMULO
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By FAITH NYAMAI
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Public secondary schools are in a rush to close following a delay by the government in releasing funds.

Some have already sent their students home despite the official closing date being August 2.

The government had promised to release the remaining Sh6.3 billion for second term by Friday.

Last evening, Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed said the money had already been disbursed.

“The government has sent 30 per cent of the disbursement to school accounts. The ministry has cleared 11 per cent of the outstanding free day secondary education amounts out of the Sh22,240 owed to every student,” she said.

The statement was echoed by the director of education in charge of secondary schools, Mr Paul Kibet.
However, Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers Secretary-General Akello Misori on Sunday said no school had received money by Friday.

He added that workers and teachers employed by school boards had not been paid.

Kenya Secondary School Heads Association chairman Kahi Indimuli said the delay in releasing the funds was worrying.

“I cannot confirm if the money was credited to school accounts. I will get a full report on Monday,” Mr Indimuli said on Sunday.

He added that the most affected are day schools “which rely on the government for almost everything”.

SECOND TERM
A principal told the Nation that his school had not got the money.

“We have not closed but creditors are on our necks,” the headteacher said, adding that the situation is more dire for recently transferred headteachers.

Primary schools have received all their funding for second term.

Schools are supposed to get 50 per cent of the government funding in first term, 30 per cent in second term and the rest in third term.

Early this month, Education PS Belio Kipsang told headteachers that the remaining Sh6 billion would be released before the end of last week.

It is not the first time schools are in a financial crisis.
In May last year, a union wrote to the ministry, saying the delay in releasing cash had inconvenienced school programmes.


Sporting successes a good sign for nation

By EDITORIAL
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Three interesting sports events in the past three weeks have put Kenya in the limelight. First, our athletes topped the medal standings at the World Under-20 Championships in athletics in Tampere, Finland. The juniors achieved the feat that no other African country has, collecting 11 medals — six gold, four silver and a bronze — in the event held between July 10 and 15.

Then three days ago the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) council session in Buenos Aires handed Kenya the rights to host the 2020 World U-20 championships, having successfully hosted the World U-18 event in Nairobi last year.

FIVE DISCIPLINES

Thirdly, Kenya collected 15 medals (6, 4, 5) at the Africa Youth Games that ended on Saturday in Algiers.

It is encouraging that two of the gold medals and one silver came from swimming (Maria Brunlehner) and girls’ javelin (Martha Musai), who claimed a rare victory. However, the medal tally dropped from the 25 (7, 11, 7) won in 2014.

One drawback was that Kenya was only represented in five disciplines — athletics, tennis, swimming, beach volleyball and hockey — out of the featured 26. The country should have entered competitors in 18 disciplines but financial constraints saw rugby, tae kwon do, boxing and badminton, among others, being dropped.

KILL DREAMS

Youth and junior championships form the backbone of sports. It is from them that a country nurtures its future stars. Missing out from the competitions kills dreams. In Algeria, Kenya tested its ammunition ahead of the 2020 World U-20 championships.

Kenya should invest in programmes that help to produce stars across all disciplines and field as many athletes as possible in these championships for exposure and experience, considering that the 2020 Tokyo and 2024 Paris Olympic Games are not far away.


To be or not to be multi-planetary species

By NANCY KOECH
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On February 6, at 9:30pm, CAT, the privately owned Space X Company and Elon Musk, historically launched, from the Kennedy Space Centre, the Falcon Heavy on its maiden mission to launch a car into a proposed billion-year orbit around Planet Mars.

Space X and humanity have taken a step closer to achieving Elon Musk’s long-term ambition — making the human species a multi-planetary species.

But the launch of the most impactful rocket today coincided with some political events in Kenya, which overshadowed every other news. That night, there were other more serious events, such the awards that Kenya won, which were equally ignored.

POWER-CRAZED MANIAC

It is time African nations embraced technological and scientific skills that could trigger innovation and inventions, enabling the population to play an active role as globalised citizens. They can no longer afford to sit back as passive observers, wondering what is in it for them. Kenyans pay too much attention to politics, which has overshadowed other priorities.

What would happen if a nuclear war erupted? A power-grazed maniac could pull the trigger to wipe out mankind if they woke up on the wrong side of the bed.

Africa cannot afford to watch passively, crawling while others are flying. When shall Africa make a car?

MASS DESTRUCTION

Idi Amin, the Ugandan mass butcher who single-handedly almost decimated his nation as he caused suffering, brain drain and a refugee exodus, could have done worse if he had access to weapons of mass destruction. So, Africa is not a safe haven and should actively seek solutions to threats to the human race.

The millennials are not going back to the hoe and machete technology. We can no longer tell our children that computers are too expensive for schools.

At one time, our scientists complained at a conference that so much money given for research by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation ended up with their peers from other countries for lack of political goodwill from our governments. Other nations back up their scientists and put their foot down until the last cent was repatriated.

CORIOLIS EFFECT

The Falcon Heavy was launched in Florida because it has a climate similar to that of the coastal region of Kenya. The Luigi Broglio Space Centre (BSC) created and used the San Marco launch platform between 1967 and 1988. Launching rockets from the Equator is much more efficient because of a physical phenomenon known as the Coriolis Effect.

Again, the launch would not have been possible without a Space X team comprising mathematicians, physicists, software programmers, aerospace and material engineers, chemists and many other experts.

There is a tide in the affairs of men which, if taken as a flood, leads to fortune. Upward mobility of the First World came as a sequence of scientific and technological advancement.

However, up to now, no one in Kenya is even referring to the launch and the station has gathered dust. This is because no local university offers such subjects as astrophysics.

Ms Koech, a communications specialist, is a part-time lecturer at Kenyatta University. [email protected]


Only in Kenya do people use tribe to defend the indefensible

By KALTUM GUYO
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Like many other Kenyans, I join the chorus of wishing that sanity returns to the country as regards corruption.

There is only so far human resilience can be pushed. I am sure many Kenyans are saying “enough is enough” and want the government to go toe to toe with the vice until we see the back of it.

The cheerleaders of those recently arrested on corruption charges ought to understand that taking a tribal line on crime is missing the point. This is not about pitting one tribe against the other; it is more about looking beyond affiliations to tackle a problem that has beleaguered this country for far too long and we must now pull the STOP lever.

Once they get a report of a crime having been committed by a Cabinet secretary, CEO, or whoever else, the police should react the same way they ought to when an ordinary person is accused of the same. Police have manhandled and handcuffed ordinary people as far as we can remember — including this writer, whom they have on several occasions mistaken for a refugee or alien.

Handcuffs cannot be a bone of contention now because the police finally have the support and the confidence to do their work at any level of our society without intimidation from hidden forces.

What MPs and governors, in particular, are doing is abuse their powers and privileges by calling for favourable treatment of suspects of economic crime as long as they have a title preceding their name. A crime is a crime is a crime. Period.

One’s position in society should not elicit favourable treatment. Whoever feels the police have overstepped their mark can, of course, invoke the law and challenge their action in court.

Police work is a 24-hour service and, hence, they can rightfully and dutifully arrest suspects when the time is convenient, guided by law and proper intelligence. It is ludicrous to demand a five-star approach to arresting leaders suspected of any crime just because they come with an entourage, flag and motorcade.

Interfering with the work of the police by leaders only when one of their own is the subject matter undermines the confidence and the work of the officers and should not be tolerated.

Elected leaders should be the first to understand fully the principle of separation of powers. Lines cannot be blurred only when they demand to obtain freedom for themselves and their cronies accused of crime. That is blatant abuse of power.

They should also be aware, by now, that to come out and vitiate a corruption case just because it is their tribesman facing the gallows also feeds into breach of principle of sub judice (contempt of court, as commonly referred to).

CONSEQUENCES

Elected leaders should not take corruption as lightly as they do. This is a matter with serious implications on all of us. They must stop perceiving corruption through the tribal lens. It is no longer the cattle-rustling incidents between two or three tribes but a matter that has far-reaching consequences across tribal lines, the country and beyond. It is deeper, damaging and more sophisticated.

As a matter of fact, leaders should be at the forefront of legislating for stiffer penalties on those who engage in corruption and not worry about who should be arrested on a Friday or not. That is the least of the problems for the rest of us affected by graft on a day to day basis.

DISCOURTEOUS

If the leaders are keen on restoring sanity in the country, they should start by quelling the fires ravaging our schools. That is a real emergency that should not have stretched this long. If leaders are serious about justice, then let us hear it for shortage of medicine, more funding for schools, enough water in the taps, better terms for civil servants and more jobs for the youth.

That should be their priority list; let the corrupt leaders bear their own cross.

Tribalism should, in fact, have been dead and buried long before corruption itself. It is discourteous to the electorate and taxpayers for leaders to come out and justify corruption by standing shoulder to shoulder with their peers accused of committing a economic crime that is detrimental to Kenyans.

INDISCRIMINATELY

Separation of powers means relevant institutions tasked with the responsibility of rooting out corruption can work freely. Tribal herd mentality veers into the realms of undermining the rule of law. Let the law indiscriminately go the full yard and bring perpetrators of graft to book.

The corruption purge can only succeed when those in the criminal justice system — especially the police, the DPP and the courts — have the confidence to do their work without interference, intimidation or threats from those with vested interests.


Make handshake deal count for Kenyans

By EDITORIAL
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Since the historic handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition chief Raila Odinga in March, the concern has been that it was taking too long to realise the dividends of the rapprochement. Immediately after the truce, the political tension thawed and the erstwhile antagonistic political coalition members started talking to each other.

Beyond that, however, nothing tangible has been recorded apart from, one, appointment of two coordinators and, two, putting together a team to spearhead the peace and dialogue initiative.

OMINOUS SIGNALS

Of late, there have been even more ominous signals as attempts to derail the initiative were made by individuals who saw it as a threat to their political interests. These are the ones who had anchored their career on the Kenyatta-Odinga rivalry and who, in the absence of animosity, had no hook to hang on.

Last week, the coordinating team put out a notice indicating its intent to get working to actualise the objective of the handshake, since christened Building Bridges Initiative. The first major activity it is addressing itself to is collecting views on what should be done to implement the nine-point agenda agreed upon in the memorandum between President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga. On the table are issues of corruption, devolution, inclusion and ending marginalisation and national cohesion.

POLITICAL WILL

On the face of it, this still looks rather woolly because collecting views and preparing reports is never, in itself, an end. The issues in question are not unique. Several documents exist based on public views which tackle them and offer very practical solutions. Even more pertinently, the Constitution provides solutions to these issues. Article 10 and Chapter Six of the Constitution expressly deal with corruption, good governance, inclusivity and transparency.

Policy frameworks exist but the political elite hardly makes them a reality. What is lacking really is the political will to actualise these.

RANCOROUS CONTESTS

We appreciate and encourage public participation in tackling issues affecting the country. Which is why the call for public engagement is crucial here. But the converse is that such undertakings — collecting views or taskforces — often turn out to be tactics for delaying actions. The point we are making is that we need more innovative approaches to respond to the challenges at hand rather than continue walking the beaten path.

Public expectations on the handshake remain quite high, coming on the backdrop of rancorous political contests last year.

So the imperative is to roll out concrete and practical activities that will make a difference and give meaning to the handshake. And whatever is done must transcend beyond individuals or parties.


Trade unionist Atwoli wrong on tea picking machines, we need tech

Francis Atwoli, the secretary-general of the workers umbrella body Cotu, has been vigorously agitating against tea harvesting machines in Kenya.

He announced in the media recently that he would proceed to the Supreme Court after losing a related case in the Appeals Court.

Whereas it is within Atwoli’s rights to seek justice and to see justice done, I think he is not on the wrong side of history. Technology has made economies thrive.

Japan, one of the most industrialised countries, is so advanced in all manner of technologies, including robotics, that factories run for 24 hours. The Asian nation is not endowed with natural resources but technology has not made it poor.

Back home, we no longer till and plant large swathes of land using pangas, hoes and jembes but rather use machinery like tractors and planters, some fitted with technology via satellites to control planting depth and leaving the land as level as possible where necessary. The world is into precision farming and we must not be left behind.

The unionist is fighting a new battle using outdated strategies. In fact, to create jobs sustainably, we need better foresight.

I am sure in the spirit of keeping jobs the Cotu boss no longer holds onto the old typewriters, copy typists and first-generation computers in his office or corresponds through postal services like in the 1970s. He must be into e-mails and social media.

Atwoli should engage in agitating for the prosecution of those involved in corruption, not killing the tea industry.

FRANCIS MAIMBA, Kericho.


KTDA open to improving farmers’ welfare

We would like to correct a few misrepresentations of facts by Kariuki Muiri in his letter, Reform KTDA to enhance gains by farmers, develop tea industry (DN, July 11).

To start with, corporate shareholders of KTDA Holdings are the tea factory companies registered under the Companies Act. These are, in turn, owned by individual shareholders, who are mainly smallholder tea farmers who supply tea to KTDA-managed factories.

Election to the boards of the tea factory companies is done by the respective shareholders and that of the KTDA (H) by the factory companies who are the shareholders. This system is in line with the Companies Act.

DEMAND AND SUPPLY

Dividends to shareholders of the tea factory companies, KTDA (H) or KTDA subsidiary companies are paid as recommended by the respective boards of directors. At the factory companies, farmers are paid for their green leaf supply, which is separate from dividends.

Tea sales are done predominantly through the auction in Mombasa. Price discovery is, hence, determined by demand and supply. A number of key value chain costs such as energy, finance and labour are largely beyond our control.

DIFFERENT PRICES

Fuel, electricity, furnace oil and other variables such as prevailing weather conditions and exchange rates further influence the productivity and cost of tea. It is, therefore, not practical to set a fixed return — such as the 85 per cent that the writer proposed.

The factory companies achieve different tea prices from the market and also incur varied costs of production. The average return to the farmers in the past three years has been 67-76 per cent but some factories have achieved a return of 80 per cent.

The issue of changing a private company to a public entity or vice versa is guided by the law.

PROCUREMENT SYSTEM

The assets of the tea factory companies are recorded in the annual financial statements, which are audited by external auditors appointed by the shareholders; the same as those of KTDA (H) and its subsidiaries.

The annual accounts are public documents available to shareholders at AGMs and filed at the company’s registry. The procurement system is open and transparent, with awards made to the best evaluated bidder.

AMEND ARTICLES

KTDA (MS) manages the factory companies through management agreements. The agreements stipulate the terms of engagement of the seconded staff as well as the management fees payable. The current fees are at 2.5 per cent, which is way below the market rate of six per cent.

The number of factory directors is guided by the Companies Act, the respective articles of association and the size and complexity of the company. The shareholders are at liberty to amend the articles as per the law.

REVIEW TAXES

We welcome the idea of an export processing zones status if this will reduce the cost of production. We also welcome the call to review the number of taxes and levies imposed on the tea business to lighten the burden on the tea farmers and improve their returns. We are open to positive ideas that would enhance service provision and earnings to the tea farmers.


Ford-Kenya, ANC merger on course, says Wetang’ula 

By DERICK LUVEGA
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By BARACK ODUOR
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Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula has allayed fears that his recent truce with Devolution Cabinet Secretary, Mr Eugene Wamalwa, will scuttle ongoing talks on the merger of his party, Ford Kenya, and Musalia Mudavadi’s Amani National Congress (ANC).

Instead, Mr Wetang’ula said, his handshake with Mr Wamalwa would help strengthen the merger aimed at realising the elusive Luhya unity.

This comes against the backdrop of simmering rivalry between his party and erstwhile ally, ODM, after Mr Wetang’ula said he had pulled out the National Super Alliance (Nasa) in which both belong as partners.

JOLT MEMBERS

The pronouncement appears to have jolted some of his members who include Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa and Kitutu Chache’s Richard Onyonka even as ODM asked Mr Wetang’ula to make good his threat.

Mr Wetang’ula, while speaking during an interview on Citizen TV, assured that the planned merger of the two parties was at an “advanced stage”.

Their truce appears to be creating cracks in the proposed merger plan unveiled after Mr Wetang’ula fell out with ODM leader Raila Odinga.

The two leaders called a truce during a meeting at Mabanga in Bungoma County, with the highlight of the reconciliation being a handshake. They later appended their signatures to a new accord in which they agreed to walk the same political path.

PRESIDENCY

The two politicians have previously engaged in a bitter at times bloody battle for political supremacy in western and sections of the North Rift. The rivalry started when Mr Wamalwa unsuccessfully challenged Mr Wetang’ula for the leadership of Ford Kenya ahead of the 2013 General Election.

The truce caused fears within Mr Mudavadi’s camp that Mr Wetang’ula could be warming up to Deputy President William Ruto’s camp after he made peace with Mr Wamalwa on July 20. But Mr Wetang’ula watered down the fears saying his meeting with Mr Wamalwa was aimed at strengthening the planned merger.

“My truce with Wamalwa is part of strengthening the merger process. Why would I think of joining another camp yet I have openly declared my interest in the presidency,” said Mr Wetang’ula.

Mr Wetang’ula recently warned that Nasa is moribund and threatened to walk out of the opposition alliance.

Ford Kenya, ANC, ODM and Wiper are member parties in the alliance that has been faced by a storm since January 30 when three principals boycotted ODM leader Raila Odinga’s mock swearing in as the “people’s president” at Uhuru Park.

Mr Wetang’ula said the Ford Kenya and ANC merger was still being discussed by individual parties. He noted that other parties within Nasa were focused on strengthening their structures and grassroots support and said Ford Kenya and ANC were doing the same.

He however denied media reports saying his party had bolted out of Nasa but insisted that Mr Odinga betrayed his colleagues in the alliance when he secretly held talks with President Uhuru Kenyatta.

“The merger is still being discussed within the party structures of Ford Kenya and ANC,” said Mr Wetang’ula.