Leaders defend handshake, fault succession politics

Homabay Women Rep Gladys Wanga (left) and Kirinyaga Governor Ann Waiguru embrace during a press conference at a Nairobi hotel. [Beverlyne Musili/Standard]
Leaders from across the political divide yesterday sought to quell political acrimony that has been building up in recent days.

On the third day of a flurry of Press briefings to defend President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga's handshake against perceived attacks from allies of Deputy President William Ruto, women leaders drawn from various parties stressed the need for the country to pull together.

Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru and Homa Bay Woman Representative Gladys Wanga led women politicians in castigating Uhuru’s critics on the backdrop of mounting criticism, particularly from some Mt Kenya leaders, that the President had neglected the region in terms of development.

They declared support for the Building Bridges Initiative initiative and warned against early 2022 succession politics. “We reject early campaigns that are polarising this country and opening wounds when elections are more than three years away,” said Ms Waiguru.

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Embraced handshake

They said they had embraced Uhuru and Raila's March 9, 2018 handshake and noted that other key people like Ruto, Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka, Kanu's Gideon Moi and ANC's Musalia Mudavadi had "supported and embraced this noble initiative."

"We urge them to stay true to that moment that gave fresh hope to this nation," they said in a joint statement read at a hotel in Nairobi.

While the women leaders were castigating the critics, Kikuyu Council of Elders asked politicians to put on hold emotive 2022 succession politics and instead focus on development.

Rift downplayed

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This, as Ruto’s allies, including National Assembly Majority Whip and Mumias East MP Ben Washiali, downplayed any rifts between Uhuru and Ruto, saying the issue of Memorandum of Understanding did not apply in the 2022 contest.

Mr Washiali argued that a coalition agreement only existed between the defunct United Republican Party and The National Alliance parties, and as a result parties dissolved and formed the Jubilee Party, doing away with any MoU.

“Immediately we formed one party called Jubilee, any MoU that existed ceased to be. It is now members of the party who will decide who will be their flag bearer for 2022 elections,” said Washiali.

The leaders said they would not accept political blackmail, intimidation, threats and bloodshed, as they hit out at Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria and his Bahati counterpart Kimani Ngunjiri over their criticism of Uhuru on development projects in the Mt Kenya region.

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President Uhuru KenyattaOpposition leader Raila OdingaDeputy President William Rutowomen leaders2022 succession politics