End of Azimio? Internal conflicts and power struggles jeopardizing the unity of the opposition coalition


End of Azimio? Internal conflicts and power struggles jeopardizing the unity of the opposition coalition

Azimio is unquestionably facing a challenging period, with internal conflicts and power struggles jeopardizing the unity of the opposition coalition.

Recent developments have brought to light the internal dynamics that are putting the coalition’s cohesion to the test.

The public dispute between former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua strongly suggests that Azimio’s existence, at least in its present state and with the current members, might be short-lived.


It is evident that the internal strife within Azimio revolves largely around determining the successor to former Prime Minister Raila Odinga as its primary leader.

Kalonzo, having supported Raila in the last three presidential elections, believes it is now his turn to secure the coveted position.

The Wiper leader has displayed a sense of unease, seeking assurance that Raila will endorse him and declaring his intention not to support the former premier in the 2027 presidential race unless guaranteed.

Kalonzo is determined to safeguard his aspirations and has consequently targeted the Kamwene caucus, including Karua and other politicians from her Mt Kenya region, to prevent any interference with his plans.

“I don’t want to pass judgment on that issue, but have you heard of dead on arrival? This thing means individualism. It is a terrible political philosophy. I would advise my friends to leave it and we stick together in Azimio,” he said in an interview on KTN News, earning a clap back from Karua.

“What about Kamwene scares my brother Kalonzo Musyoka that he must drag it in every conversation he has?” Karua posed on X.

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Insiders within Azimio have consistently asserted that Kalonzo’s candidacy in the upcoming elections is confirmed. However, indications suggest a different narrative. The advocacy led by Karua through Kamwene implies that the matter is far from settled.

Moreover, Raila’s persistent engagement in active politics contradicts any indications of an imminent retirement.

He remains a prominent figure and spokesperson for the opposition, prompting internal pressure for him to consider a sixth presidential bid.

Raila’s focus on keeping President William Ruto in check rather than launching campaigns has left his political intentions shrouded in mystery.

Simultaneously, he is fortifying ODM through grassroots recruitment drives across the country. Despite these developments, Kalonzo appears undeterred.

“We believe that a strong ODM, Wiper, Jubilee, Narc Kenya, Kanu and other affiliate parties will mean a stronger Azimio,” Kalonzo said in the interview.

Kalonzo’s claim would be more convincing if all the constituent parties were indeed robust. However, the deterioration of former President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party, tilting towards Ruto, challenges this assertion.

The president’s recent meeting with Jubilee MPs from Nakuru County indicates his success in swaying a significant number of Jubilee members away from Azimio. Despite opposition protests, Ruto’s influence on Azimio is growing, with the Head of State attracting lawmakers from other constituent parties.

Statements from National Assembly Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi, a strong supporter of Raila, hinting at the possibility of a new coalition, add complexity to Kalonzo’s and Karua’s succession plans.

Wandayi, in an interview on NTV, declared that they would support whoever is chosen to represent the coalition. “…2027 is still very far. The political landscape is going to change. There will be alignments and realignments between now and the next election… Azimio could evolve into a bigger movement, which could be named something else,”

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Meanwhile, last Tuesday, Raila’s meeting with businessman and former presidential aspirant Jimi Wanjigi sparked discussions about whether he intends to diverge from his traditional allies.

According to sources, Raila and Wanjigi have established a “working agreement” that has the potential to complicate Azimio’s future, placing it on a trajectory seen in other coalition experiences.

Since the reintroduction of pluralism in 1992, political alliances have typically had a five-year lifespan. These coalitions are often formed with the primary goal of winning power and tend to disband after achieving or failing in their objectives.

“It is the nature of coalitions to collapse. When they achieve their purpose, coalitions collapse because everyone is fighting over who gets what. When they fail, they have nothing to hold them together,” said university lecturer Macharia Munene.

Professor Munene predicts that Azimio may not endure until 2027, noting that it is already experiencing fragmentation.

“Each politician is looking into the future, which does not necessarily include their other colleagues. Kalonzo wants to be president and his political survival in Ukambani depends on whether he is presidential material. Martha, too, wants to be president and wants to show that she can hold her own,” said the historian.

In the past three elections, Raila Odinga has pursued the presidency through three distinct coalitions.

In 2013, he was a part of the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (Cord), which later transformed into the National Super Alliance (Nasa) in 2017. Subsequently, he ran as part of the Azimio coalition in 2022.

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The ruling coalition has also undergone changes since 2002 when former President Mwai Kibaki’s National Rainbow Coalition (Narc) came to power. Internal conflicts led to the breakup of Narc in 2005, prompting Kibaki to seek re-election under the Party of National Unity (PNU).

Uhuru’s successor, Uhuru Kenyatta, appeared to break the trend in 2017 by running on a consolidated version of the coalition that had brought him to power in 2013.

However, the Jubilee Alliance Party of 2013 eventually dissolved, with its founders expressing intentions of ruling for a century.

The handshake between Uhuru and Raila sidelined the then deputy president, Ruto, leading to his formation of the Kenya Kwanza alliance.

The president aims to have the ruling coalition evolve into a single party, a move opposed by some constituent parties such as Ford Kenya led by National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula and Amani National Congress.

Azimio is also grappling with dissent over a report by the National Dialogue Committee (Nadco), co-chaired by Kalonzo and National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wah.

Raila’s ODM plans to endorse the Nadco report as it is, a stance supported by Kalonzo. However, Karua and former Defence Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa oppose the report, citing its failure to address the cost of living.

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End of Azimio? Internal conflicts and power struggles jeopardizing the unity of the opposition coalition



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