Anxious Mt Kenya welcomes Raila ahead of BBI rally

Nyandarua Governor Francis Kimemia, ODM party leader Raila Odinga, Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi and his Kirinyaga counterpart Ann Waiguru during the BBI consultative meeting in Meru yesterday. [Olivia Murithi, Standard]

There were anxious moments yesterday when opposition chief Raila Odinga took the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) to leaders of 10 counties in Mt Kenya after a section of leaders became hostile.

Trouble started when an announcement was made that Raila, who had flown to North Imenti in a chopper, was about to enter the main hall at the Kenya Methodist University and the assembled leaders should prepare a rousing welcome for him. Chuka Igambang’ombe MP Patrick Munene, who was the first MP to speak, stirred the crowd when he said they did not want Raila at the event because Deputy President William Ruto had been locked out of the process.

Mr Munene, who spoke in the local dialect, was cheered when he told the residents that if an opinion poll is done among Uhuru, Raila and Ruto today, the latter would get 60 per cent.

Unwelcome guests

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The MP said they had agreed that Raila would not be there, while his Imenti Central counterpart Kirima Nguchine said they expected no “guest” and will not allow anyone to divide Ameru or Mt Kenya region.

Tharaka’s Gitonga Murugara said they had not welcomed anybody to the event.

“We don’t want unwelcome guests we didn’t know about. Tomorrow (today) we expect our President and we love him very much. In case Deputy President William Ruto comes, let’s give him a rousing welcome,” Mr Gitonga said.

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Tharaka Nithi Woman Representative Beatrice Nkatha said she had brought greetings from Uhuru and Ruto, to which she was cheered wildly.

“We love Raila too, because the handshake brought peace in Kenya,” she said.

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Raila had arrived at around 2.30pm accompanied by Lang’ata MCA David Mberia to be met by grumbling from a section of the leaders who had been locked out of the town hall meeting. Sensing that the hostility could degenerate into chaos, some governors quickly moved out and led the former Prime Minister to the administration block where they held lengthy consultations until normalcy returned 

For some time, Raila was holed up in the administration block with Governor Kiraitu Murungi and Senator Mithika Linturi as efforts were made to restore order at the hall and facilitate his entry.

Others at the block were governors Mutahi Kahiga (Nyeri), Francis Kimemia (Nyandarua) Muthomi Njuki (Tharaka Nithi), James Nyoro (Kiambu) and Ann Waiguru (Kirinyaga).

When calm was restored, Raila made his way to the hall to address the crowd.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya, Kiraitu and Waiguru praised Raila, saying they welcome his partnership with the President to unite the country. Kiraitu said area leaders want to secure the interests of the region through BBI. “BBI is a legacy project, I sincerely thank the President and Raila for it,” he said.

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The governor said counties want a share of at least 45 per cent of revenue anchored in law.

When he rose to speak, Raila was given a rousing welcome.

“I’ve just come to observe and I’ve brought greetings from President Kenyatta,” he said. 

Different groups presented their needs at the meeting.

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BBIRaila OdingaBuilding Bridges Initiative