ODM leader Raila Odinga yesterday got a boost in his bid to scale Mt Kenya, earning a shot at charming his way into the hearts of voters.
A delegation of Kieleweke lawmakers allied to President Uhuru Kenyatta endorsed Raila to succeed him at a meeting in Serena Hotel, Nairobi. The engagement reportedly had the blessings of the President.
The politicians in attendance were National Assembly Majority Leader Amos Kimunya (Kipipiri), MPs Maoka Maore (Igembe Central), Kanini Kega (Kieni), Sabina Chege (Murang’a), Ngunjiri Wambugu (Nyeri Town) Ruth Mwaniki (Kigumo), Gichuki Mugambi (Othaya) and Dennis Waweru (former Dagoretti MP), among other leaders.
They resolved to have the ruling Jubilee Party and ODM hold joint parliamentary group meetings.
Jubilee and ODM have been in merger talks that could formalise their cordial working relationship in Parliament since the March 2018 handshake between Uhuru and Raila.
“We will work as one entity with the aim to pass the government’s agenda and also to prepare for the 2022 polls. The MPs have assured Raila of their support with the blessings of their party leader. It was a wonderful meeting,” said a source aware of the meeting’s deliberations.
Addressing the Press after the meeting, the ODM leader said that he sought the lawmakers’ audience to chart a path to the vote-rich Mt Kenya, which boasted of 5.3 million voters in 2017.
“I came to try to find from them some information on how to climb the mountain. They have shown me different routes to be followed to the Lenana peak. We have agreed that we are all on this march together,” said Raila.
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Ms Chege said that they would work with the ODM leader. She also called out politicians seeking the Mt Kenya vote through "forceful tactics".
“It is the beginning of a new journey, and we are happy that we have started this kind of conversation. We also love Baba’s approach of humbling himself and coming to talk to us directly, because we are tired of people chest-thumping,” she said.
Chege, however, downplayed speculation over endorsement, saying that they deliberated on issues affecting the mountain region in the post-Uhuru regime.
“It was a deliberation meeting after Raila met with Mt Kenya business peoples. He wanted to engage with the elected leaders. The meeting was very good. We discussed how to work together.
“We are open to all presidential hopefuls. We are not blocking anyone from the region. We are engaging all who have shown interest. We want a guarantee and assurance that the projects initiated by the President will continue uninterrupted,” she said.
The Murang’a Woman Rep disclosed that they also took the opportunity to thank Raila for his unity pact with Uhuru that stabilised the country after the divisive 2017 presidential elections.
“The ODM leader has also been very instrumental in pushing the government agenda in Parliament. We have a good team; we are complemented by ODM and this has made it easy for the President to ensure his agenda in the August House is not disrupted.
“We are looking at working with the like-minded... with less than a year to the polls, there should be no grouping of Jubilee and ODM but work together. We should agree on issues not flex muscles insisting that it must be this way,” she said.
Mr Kega said, "You cannot scale Mt Kenya without a guide. Raila has told us that he needs a guide to help him climb the mountain."
On his Facebook page, Mr Wambugu said that the meeting discussed a wide range of issues related to Mt Kenya. The Nyeri Town MP said that Raila had agreed to implement the 'one man, one vote, one shilling' mantra.
"He also reiterated that all Kenyans, wherever they are, whatever their political persuasion, should be allowed to live and work wherever they want in Kenya. He committed to respecting our leaders and gave his history, including where he keeps falling out with our region, and how he intends to fix that," said Wambugu.