ODM leader Raila Odinga has said his differences with Deputy President William Ruto are ideological and about the future of Kenya.
Raila said he has differed with his one-time close ally on basic fundamentals that hinge on the best direction the country should take on a number of issues.
He lists the occasions the two leaders have held opposing views, including the controversial Mau conservation and the 2010 constitutional reforms. Raila supported Mau evictions, which he said was a Cabinet decision, but Ruto was opposed to it. The constitution reforms also found them on opposite sides with Raila for and Ruto against the draft document.
Presently, Raila said he has disagreed with the Dr Ruto over his decision to work with President Uhuru Kenyatta through the March 9 handshake, which the DP views as a plot to block him from the 2022 succession.
“For me it’s not personal. It’s a conflicting vision of how Kenya moves forward,” said Raila yesterday.
The former premier further weighed in on the two leaders perceived differences saying on ‘basic fundamentals including where Kenya goes from here and how and that did not begin today.’
“We were on different sides in the struggle for a new constitution. We differed on the contents of the constitution of 2010 and on the issue of climate change and the need to conserve Kenya’s water towers particularly the Mau,” he said.
Raila, who is spearheading the regional consultative forums after the launch of the BBI report last November by the Garissa Senator Yusuf Haji-led team, attributed their current political feud to his commitment to unite the country.
“Today we have differed on my decision to work with Uhuru which Ruto views as a plot against him. The ultimate goal of the BBI project is to attain a more equal, united and peaceful country. This is our dream and hope,” said Raila.
He also sought to clear the air on his role in the Jubilee administration following numerous delegations trooping to his Capitol Hill offices, including Cabinet Secretaries and other senior government officials.
Ruto’s allies have questioned the ODM leader’s current influence, especially after he gave a directive to stop dredging in Likoni following an incident where a woman and her daughter died after their car slid of the ferry and plunged into the ocean.
“I am not in government. I am not helping Uhuru run government. That should be Ruto’s duty. I am only helping Uhuru with a specific grand project: the BBI which the DP should also be helping with,” Raila said.
Earlier yesterday, Raila held two separate meetings with politicians from Mt Kenya in a fresh bid to consolidate the region’s support for BBI. Raila used the discussions to dismiss claims that the truce between him and President Kenyatta was part of 2022 political game plan, insisting that he has not declared interest to run for the top seat.
“I have never said that I want to be President in 2022. That is how misguided some of those people are. The BBI report does not talk about elections in 2022. We really don’t want to divert attention of the people,” Raila told journalists after the breakfast meeting in Nairobi.
The March 9 handshake has left Mt Kenya region split down the middle, with a section of politicians allied to Ruto opposing the rapprochement as a scheme to block him from succeeding Uhuru in the next poll.
Raila hosted Senators Ephraim Maina (Nyeri), Irungu Kang’ata (Muranga), John Kinyua (Laikipia), Mwangi Githiomi (Nyandarua), Charles Kibiru (Kirinyaga) and Isaac Mwaura (nominated) for a breakfast at a city hotel before meeting governors Kiraitu Murungi of Meru and Francis Kimemia (Nyandarua) at his Capitol Hills offices.
Also present were Peter Munga and Kirea Ibui, officials of the Mt Kenya Foundation. Raila said he briefed the leaders on the initiative and its intentions as well as development issues in the region.
“We have generally also discussed the issues of development in the region. They have appraised me about the concerns which the people of the region have raised. And I have also told them how we think some of these problems can be solved,” said Raila.
Raila described the BBI process as a train that left the station and cannot be stopped by any force.
“It will be very misguided and unfortunate for anybody to try to think that they can sabotage this exercise. This is a people’s driven exercise. It is the people of Kenya who are moving this process. And I don’t think there is any force that can stop this train from moving,” he added.
The region’s leaders said they used the meeting to consult Raila about the BBI process and what it has for the people of Mt Kenya. The senators described the meeting as “an informal engagement” for them to understand the BBI process and the idea of uniting Kenyans.
Maina said the former PM briefed them on the intentions of the BBI, which he said was geared towards uniting the country with 2022 elections not in the picture.
“It was an informal meeting where we sat with Raila to understand BBI and what our region stands to gain from the process. He was very categorical that the BBI process was not meant for the 2022 elections.” He said the region welcomes any idea that will bring peace to the country.
He added: “Raila also said that he has not said anywhere that he would vie for the Presidency in 2022. He was clear that his handshake with President Uhuru Kenyatta was to unite Kenyans to ensure that elections don’t divide Kenyans.”
One man, one vote
Maina said the senators also insisted to the former premier that the BBI process should protect the one man, one vote doctrine to ensure equitability in representation and the need to ensure that no region is disfranchised.
“We told him our stand on the issue of representation, which is dear to our people. Let use ensure that every vote counts for what it is and our hope is that these are the issues that will be addressed in the BBI,” said Maina.
Githiomi said the issue of BBI process featured prominently during the talk with the leaders seeking clarity on the subject. He said the senators also raised issues affecting the region such as agriculture, which ought to have a lasting solution.
Kangáta said Uhuru has told them to support the BBI and join the ongoing regional consultative meetings. “He has told us to join the bandwagon. We will go to Coast on Saturday,” said the Senate Majority Whip.
[Moses Nyamori, Roselyne Obala, Rawlings Otieno and Francis Ngige]
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