Raila’s meeting widens rift among western leaders

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga (centre) addresses the Press on Tuesday at Jaramogi Odinga Foundation after a consultative meeting with Western leaders. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]
Details of Tuesday’s meeting between Orange Democratic Movement party leader Raila Odinga and a group of MPs from Western region have emerged.

The meeting that took place in Nairobi and was led by Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya has further driven a wedge between leaders from the region, a contrast of its anticipated outcome.

According to legislators who attended the meeting, the boat was rocked after Raila said he was willing to lead a delegation of Western leaders to State House, an offer that seemed to offend a section of leaders.

It has also emerged that not all MPs were told of the meeting with Raila. For those who attended, they were only aware of a breakfast meet with Governor Oparanya only to be surprised by Raila’spresence.

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In attendance were political leaders drawn from Jubilee, ODM, Ford-K and ANC.

Reacting to claims that some MPs were ambushed for the Raila meeting, ANC party nominated MP Geoffrey Osotsi said all MPs from the region had been invited and those denying were doing so after being reprimanded by their party bosses whom he accused of being against the handshake.

“There cannot be an ambush when you go to meet someone in his office,” he said.

The MP could not, however, ascertain if all the region’s MPs were invited, only saying Governor Oparanya was responsible for the invites.

Efforts to reach the governor did not bear fruit as he was holed up in his office for the better part of yesterday.

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While sources maintained that the meeting partly discussed how to sideline ANC party leader Musalia Mudavadi from Western politics, Mr Osotsi said the meeting dwelt on the region’s economic development in light of the handshake.

Desperate attempt

The Mudavadi-ally-turned-foe said the meeting was weighty and had made legislators against the handshake panic.

“Some of the ANC legislators present have confirmed that Raila lied to them that even Musalia Mudavadi was aware of the meeting,” said ANC Secretary General Barrack Muluka.

Muluka claimed the meeting was a desperate attempt by Raila to hold onto the Western vote-rich bloc.

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However, Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala (ANC) and Osotsi (ANC) dismissed Muluka’s assertion.

Earlier, Lugari MP Ayub Savula disclosed that Raila and Oparanya had met a section of the leaders who agreed to persuade the rest to let the former prime minister arrange a meeting between them with President Kenyatta next week.

He said all the 32 legislators from Western were then summoned for a meeting at Parliament on Wednesday to discuss and agree on whether Raila should lead them to State House.

The idea is understood to have elicited a heated debate which saw some of the politicians storm out of the meeting in protest, arguing that they also have their party leaders who can lead them to State House to meet Uhuru if need arises.

Raila OdingaOrange Democratic MovementWestern regionmoses wetang'ula