|Raila Odinga (C) when he arrived for the CORD retreat Sunday. [Photo: Govedi Asutsa/Standard]|
SEE ALSO :Calls for Jubilee party meetingCivil rights Jackson, thought not a member of President Barack Obama’s administration, was the most familiar American public figure at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, when Uhuru was sworn-in. It was not clear if at all he could have had a message from Obama to Uhuru and Raila, even though it is not very much unlike American tradition for a private message of their leader to be delivered by a senior and respected citizen. But even without Obama’s prodding, Jackson’s role as a civil rights activist has given him immense contacts and good rapport with many African leaders, and he could have put these at play. Having been close to the presidency, polling 5.3 million against Uhuru’s 6.1 million, the American cleric exhorted Uhuru to appreciate the fact that he needed to send out a message of goodwill and reconciliation to the considerably big constituency that did not vote for him.
SEE ALSO :Trade with China skewed against KenyaRaila’s aides, on condition of confidentiality so as not to be seen to be spilling the beans on secret talks between their boss and the new President, said of the ex-PM’s meeting with Jackson: “He went there (Kidero’s home) alone and expressed his willingness to work with Uhuru for the good of the country.” The sources explained that after the Supreme Court ruling, the youthful businessman, who is also a son of a former influential minister in retired President Daniel Arap Moi’s Cabinet, tried reaching out to Raila using one of his long-serving personal assistants. It wasn’t clear at this stage whether he is the one who initiated the meeting, or was acting on Uhuru’s behalf. However, the businessman also happens to be close to Uhuru’s deputy, Mr William Ruto, who would later tell the country after assuming office, that he had had lengthy meetings with Raila. “This was the first attempt towards arranging for a meeting between Uhuru and Raila. The meeting took place on April 1at the businessman’s residence in Muthaiga,’’ confirmed the PM’s aide. Another of the PM’s advisors also confirmed both meetings that the former PM attended in the two Muthaiga homes. “Mr Odinga denied the first meeting took place and that is his position. But the truth is that the meeting did take place at the home of the businessman,’’ he said. In a Facebook posting earlier in the day another of Raila’s advisors had revealed to his string of online friends that Reverend Jackson, who like the late Martin Luther King is a renown black American civil rights activist and Baptist minister, was the key player in the Uhuru-Raila talks. The advisor played down media reports that the Uhuru-Raila meeting, where both Kalonzo and Ruto featured, discussed the number of security guards the CORD leaders should be left with and the amount the State would pay them as retirement benefits. Real issues “…You can safely laugh at reports in sections of our media that Raila went see (sic) Uhuru about security detail and chase cars and retirement benefits,’’ Raila’s advisor who is also former top UN media personality, Mr Salim Lone. Lone then threw in the revelation: “The meeting was actually negotiated by the Rev Jesse Jackson and focused on real issues facing Kenya.” He then referred his friends to the Sunday Standard story yesterday quoting Raila saying he had turned down the offer of a UN envoy role because his “plate was full’’. Speaking in Khwisero constituency on Saturday after meeting with Uhuru, Raila explained his focus would be to strengthen CORD and urged those still sympathising with him for losing the presidency to stop because it was unnecessary. Tell me sorry “Do not tell me sorry for what happened. I do not wish to hear this. When a cooking stick breaks, do you stop preparing your meal? Certainly not! And that is why we want to state that we have enough work to do,” said Raila. “Raila when invited for dinner by the businessman, sought to know what it was all about. He was assured there was nothing underhand, and all the cards would be on the table. Because he was also keen to be part of healing the country (after the divisive elections), he accepted the invitation,’’ said another of Odinga’s aides. When Lone was contacted, he confirmed Jackson did meet Raila at Kidero’s home. “I can only confirm the meeting took place between Raila and Reverend Jackson at Kidero’s home and that they discussed a possible meeting between him and the President (Uhuru)’’ was Lone’s response to our questions.