Opposition leader Raila Odinga says he is willing to reach out to estranged coalition partner Moses Wetang’ula as he rallies support for the handshake between him and President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Raila also committed to ensuring that Western region got its fair share of appointments and resources under the pact with Uhuru even as local leaders requested a meeting with the President.
Speaking to more than 20 elected leaders from Western region, Raila said his March 9 handshake with Uhuru had jolted Mr Wetang'ula, who is also the Bungoma senator, and who had expressed reservations over the unity deal.
The National Super Alliance (NASA) leader told western Kenya politicians that his other partners - Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper) and Musalia Mudavadi (Amani National Congress) - had a good working relationship with him.
The Orange Democratic Movement party chief however tasked the leaders with reaching out to Wetang’ula while urging them to support the Building Bridges initiative.
“We are working together, except maybe Wetang’ula. Musalia and Kalonzo are working with us. For Wetang'ula, maybe what happened in the Senate annoyed him as a leader and that’s why he has made the remarks he has made. We have agreed in this meeting to talk to him so we can work together,” said Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya after the three-hour meeting yesterday.
Wetang’ula, who has on several occasions accused Raila of betraying the Opposition, was miffed when Opposition senators removed him as Leader of Minority, a position he held in the last Parliament. He was replaced with Siaya senator James Orengo.
He has also in several instances claimed NASA is dead following the handshake between Uhuru and Raila; this culminated in his declaration two days ago that he had decamped from the alliance.
“In my view, NASA is now a moribund organisation. NASA is history. We were in NASA as Ford Kenya in a coalition of the willing, we suffered a massive betrayal by our presidential candidate and as a party we are now focused on how to strengthen our grassroots support and to strengthen our national appeal,” the senator said two weeks ago.
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Yesterday, Oparanya sought to downplay the impact of the handshake on Opposition politics, terming Raila’s move tactical.
“I can tell you that NASA is still alive and kicking. NASA is there as an opposition to check the excesses of the Government. You can now see people are being taken to court for corruption because of the handshake,” Oparanya added.
The meeting held at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation offices on Kiambere Road in Lower Upper Hill, Nairobi, came at a time when speculation is rife over an impending Cabinet reshuffle.
“This is a delegation from western who came to see me. They have raised issues of concern; social issues, development, issues of infrastructure, industries and agriculture,” Raila said in a brief introduction before inviting Oparanya to address journalists.
At the meeting, sources said the NASA chief told the MPs that he and the Head of State were committed to ensuring that the country was united, while asking them to give any proposals they had to the Building Bridges task force.
Last week, Wetang’ula claimed on national TV that "certain communities think that leadership should oscillate and rotate around them" as he scoffed at the unity bid.
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“Everyone knows that there are families; the Mois, Odingas and Kenyattas, who must be at the centre of everything. There are some of us capable of running this country,” he said during a show on Citizen TV.
His remarks angered NASA MPs, who convened a press conference the next day to tell him off.