Political unease as Raila and Ruto meet at Obwocha funeral

From left: Interior cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi, ODM leader Raila Odinga,Chief Justice David Maraga and Deputy President William Ruto at Sironga Nyamira County during the burial of Former West Mugirango Member of Parliament Henry Obwocha's burial. (Sammy Omingo/standard)
Deputy President William Ruto and NASA leader Raila Odinga met after many months in an encounter marked with unease and thinly veiled political jibes.

They preached reconciliation and supported the fight against corruption, during the burial of former Cabinet minister Henry Obwocha in Nyamira County, Friday.

The burial was also attended by NASA co-principal Moses Wetang’ula.

The last time Ruto and Raila shared a platform was two months ago when they attended the National Breakfast and Prayer Meeting in Nairobi, where President Uhuru Kenyatta asked them to shake hands.

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Raila walked in to a thunderous welcome by the mourners unlike when Ruto landed minutes earlier at the Sironga Stadium where the funeral service was conducted. 

The NASA leader who addressed mourners first recounted events of the 2017 General Election which he explained using the biblical story of two women who were claiming one baby.

“I sat with Uhuru and we said the kid should not be killed. That’s why the handshake came about,” said Raila.

He also recounted the 2007/08 post-election violence and the burning of women and children in a church at Kiambaa, Eldoret.

It was the aftermath of the chaos that saw Raila and Rutopart ways. “We are now walking together and we want to take all our people to Canaan,” he said.

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The NASA leader added that Kenya had now put the painful memories behind and reflected on the gains which the newly found working unity between him and President Uhuru Kenyatta were destined to offer Kenyans.

Ruto on his part took a jibe at Raila over his past criticism of his contributions at funds drives.

“Nimelaumiwa ya kutosha (I have been blamed enough – over fundraisers), but I will come and finish building the church which Mr Obwocha did not live to finish building,” Ruto said.

In an apparent attack on the NASA leader, the DP said leaders must accept defeat. He told Raila to forget about the elections and instead focus on serving Kenyans.

“We told them ‘Tuko pamoja’ and they sang Mambo yabadilika. And true to the song, things have since changed and we are together. Let us be democrats. we should accept defeat. Let’s respect choice of the people,” Ruto said.

Both leaders heaped praises on Obwocha whom they described as a faithful civil servant who could be trusted by all institutions he worked for, including Parliament.

Chief Justice David Maraga eulogised the former Cabinet minister as a personal friend of long standing and urged politicians to emulate his style of leadership which revolved around honesty and trust.

Wetang’ula described Obwocha as a major pioneer of parliamentary Standing Orders and committee systems.

“He was an honest man who led the privatisation of sugar sector soberly...the biggest honour the government will do will be to implement the report on privatisation of sugar industries,” he said.

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Deputy President William RutoNASA leader Raila Odingaformer Cabinet minister Henry ObwochaMoses Wetang’ula