Two private and long emotional meetings with pleadings, empty promises and a flurry of received and ignored calls captured the palpating tension 24 hours before swearing-in of NASA leader Raila Odinga, Saturday Standard can reveal.
Sharp and divergent opinions characterised the Opposition coalition’s moment of reckoning as Raila and the three other principals differed on the oath-taking, which they had touted as epic shift from their electoral theft grievance.
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Sources at the core of the planning say by the eve of the inauguration, it was evident that Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka, Amani National Congress’ Musalia Mudavadi and Senate Leader of Minority Moses Wetang’ula would skip the Uhuru Park event.
To proceed or not?
At about 1.30pm on Monday, the quartet separately drove into a Karen hotel to a meeting full of anxiety and trepidation. It was the time to agree on the nitty-gritties of the event. But rather than discuss details, the meeting slipped back to the question of whether to proceed with the event or not.
The 11-hour meeting at the Karen hotel, our sources say, ended without a breakthrough on the event, let alone details of it like the oath and its content.
Later, Raila would share his frustrations to an MP we spoke to on the cold feet among his colleagues despite their public avowals in support.
“We have agreed to meet tomorrow morning to finalise the plans,” he reportedly told the MP.
On the Tuesday D-day at 10 o’clock, Raila drove into DusitD2 hotel along Riverside Drive from undisclosed direction. The rendezvous with his co-principals would be the last meeting point before the oath.
Unlike his colleagues, Raila had not slept at his home over fears the Jubilee government could attempt to block him from accessing Uhuru Park for their big event.
A few minutes before Raila arrived at the hotel, Siaya Senator James Orengo had arrived followed by businessman Jimmy Wanjigi and Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho.
The talks began 30 minutes later after the arrival of Wetang’ula and Mudavadi. Kalonzo had kept on indicating that he would join them but did not make it.
Orengo assured all the principals that he would offer them free legal service if by any chance they were arrested by Jubilee.
“Orengo was very clear, the whole matter was legally insulated and he was ready to defend anyone in the courts,” said another source at the luxurious and exclusive six storied hotel.
As time went by at about noon, Mudavadi and Wetang’ula were still noncommittal on their attendance at Uhuru Park, which was by then teeming with thousands of supporters.
“The videos streaming from the NASA team at Uhuru Park excited Raila, Joho and Wanjigi who believed that they needed to be there on time,” said the source.
Joho, it is understood wondered why anyone of the NASA luminaries, would be scared to attend. “Hakuna kitu ya kuogopa hapa (There is nothing to fear here),” sentiments shared by Wanjigi.
A few minutes after noon, Mudavadi and Wetang’ula excused themselves and left, promising to join the NASA luminaries and drive together to Uhuru Park. It never came to pass.
“What happened later was agonising, the trio were not picking calls from Raila and lieutenants at DusitD2,” said the source.
At some point when Wetang’ula picked Raila’s call, he claimed to be at Nairobi Club and was to meet Raila and his team at Serena Hotel before they went to the historic public park. Time was running out fast and the crowds getting weary.
At 2.23pm, a downcast Raila, not able to convince his principals but buoyed by the support and encouragement of Joho, Orengo and Wanjigi, triumphantly romped into the impatient but rapturous crowd at Uhuru Park.
Within 27 minutes of his arrival, Raila had been sworn-in, the absence of his co-principals explained and crowds begun to disperse. Forty minutes later,Kalonzo, Mudavadi and Wetang’ula who had by then congregated at Karen, sent a statement to newsrooms affirming their NASA unity.
“We agreed to meet again this morning. However, due to circumstances beyond our comprehension and control, the four of us did not assemble as planned,” read part of the statement.
In a case of the hunter becoming the hunted, one of our sources told us that most of the evening after taking his oath, Raila equally refused to pick calls from his co-principals until the following morning.
Yesterday, Wetang’ula said they were working on a new date for the swearing-in of Kalonzo, insisting that their absence at Uhuru Park was in ‘good faith’
“The four of us signed an agreement ahead of August 2017 elections and we are strongly bound together by the interest of the people. We should not be called cowards. Our president is not offended with our absence at Uhuru Park because he understands our strategy,” Wetang’ula said.
On Thursday, both Kalonzo and Wetang’ula, while speaking in a press conference at Okoa Kenya offices in Lavington, claimed that their absence at Uhuru Park was a strategy that had been agreed.
“We acted based on our intelligence reports,” said Wetangula. Kalonzo took it further back and alluded that from the Machakos meeting two weeks ago, they had agreed to have the oath done at intervals.