Drama as Raila reconciles Ayacko and Obado

ODM leader Raila Odinga reconciles political foes Migori Governor Okoth Obado (right) and Ochillo Ayacko during the burial of Migori Senator the late Ben Oluoch at Kanyimach village in Migori county. [Denish Ochieng/Standard]

Opposition leader Raila Odinga has persuaded two fierce political rivals to reconcile.

Raila made Migori Governor Okoth Obado and former Cabinet minister Ochillo Ayacko to shake hands, evoking memories of his March 9 handshake with President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Mr Ayacko is challenging Mr Obado's election at the Court of Appeal in Kisumu, with the judgement expected in a few days.

The two politicians, who had attended the burial of Migori Senator Ben Oluoch at Kanyimach village on Monday, appeared to have been taken by surprise when Raila asked them to bury the hatchet.

The former prime minister also asked Ayacko to withdraw his lawsuit.

"I want Ochillo Ayacko and Obado to come up here and reconcile. They are both in ODM," said Raila.

Obado beat Ayacko in last year's elections after violent campaigns marred by deaths, injuries and destruction of property that saw them summoned to the ODM party headquarters.

Enthusiastic crowd

Mourners urged the leaders to heed Raila's call and step forward. The enthusiastic crowd burst into shouts of "Go! go! It's time for a handshake!" Obado walked to Raila but not without a protest.

"Jakom (chairman), you know this man you want me to greet is giving me a lot of problems. Even right now he has taken me to the Court of Appeal. How do we reconcile with all these battles?"

Obado told Raila that he would only reconcile with Ayacko if his rival publicly declared he would withdraw his court case.

When Ayacko took the microphone, he declared that he would withdraw the case in the spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation, as advised by Raila. The two leaders shook hands and promised to open a new political chapter.

"I want to assure the governor that I will withdraw the matter," promised Ayacko as the crowd cheered.

Raila asked Jubilee Secretary General Raphael Tuju not to field a candidate in the upcoming by-election, and he accepted the request.

"Jubilee, in the spirit of the handshake, will not field a candidate here. We are now good political partners," Mr Tuju said, a statement he re-affirmed to The Standard on the phone yesterday.

ODM Chairman John Mbadi said the party would conduct free and fair nominations when the Speaker of the Senate issued official writs to declare the Migori seat vacant.