Mount Kenya Azimio leaders have put Raila Odinga’s loss behind them and are now warming up to President William Ruto, whose government they now plan to support so that it can succeed in its service to the country.
Jubilee Party leaders said Mt Kenya had paid all Raila’s debts in the 2022 elections, and they are now ready to work with President Ruto to unite and build the nation.
They said the interests of the region and the country are more important than individual political debts, and are determined to ensure the country moves forward to serve wananchi.
The leaders said they played their part in ensuring Raila gets one million votes from the region in this year’s polls and blamed Nyanza for not turning out in larger numbers to ensure a Raila win.
Former Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu said that this was the first time Raila got so many votes from the region since he started vying in 1997, and it was his people who failed him.
“Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua is our current leader in Mt Kenya. We can meet, have tea, and talk about issues affecting our country, and he will listen and act. He is the leader holding the highest position in the region,” Ngunjiri said.
“We are happy with the way he handled EALA issues, and he is a person who can listen and act.”
The leaders were reacting to the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) parliament elections held on Thursday, where they believe ODM failed to vote for Jubilee’s preferred leaders.
Jubilee party Secretary General, Jeremiah Kioni added: “The debt Raila wanted to be paid has been paid. For the first time, Raila got the highest number of votes in Mt Kenya, which he has never gotten, and it’s now time to move on.”
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Kioni said that the last election was a lesson to the people of Mount Kenya, and now that the elections are over, the region has a chance to fight for issues affecting them.
“When push comes to shove, communities quickly run and rally together. What seems to prevail is loyalty to the community. The writing is on the wall. It does not matter whether you are in UDA or whether you are in Kenya Kwanza,” he said.
Kioni said that the Eala elections taught them how other communities quickly forget about their political differences.
“It was not planned; it just happened naturally. The vote in parliament taught us that we are on our own. It is not about politics or individuals; we just want to ensure the nation and our people are okay,” Kioni said.
The leaders said they will sit at the national table as a region to discuss how to improve the lives of Kenyans.
“Irrespective of the party everyone supported in 2022 or after, Mt Kenya will work together as a region to protect our interests and build a better nation,” Kioni said.
Ngunjiri added that the only political debt he believes in is serving Kenyans by providing good leadership and ensuring ample policies are in place.
“Our people want roads; they want good schools, they want health, they want sports facilities, they want security, and they want infrastructure. We cannot sit here and discuss the debts of politicians, but we can discuss what leaders owe Kenyans,” Ngunjiri said over the phone.
Further, the leaders distanced the region from the political narrative that the region owes Raila a debt following former Vice President and Raila’s father Oginga Odinga’s support for Mzee Jomo Kenyatta’s election as Kenya’s first president in 1963 and Azimio Leader’s election as Kenya’s president in 2002. Raila later endorsed former President Uhuru Kenyatta through a handshake in 2017.
They asked Raila to move on, since if there were political debts, Ruto also has a right to claim them since he ensured Uhuru won in 2013 and 2017.
Ngujiri said that he was happy that Ruto was paying all the debts in his government, and now we will never have any future political debts.
“And I am happy that Ruto ensured Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula, and ANC counterpart Musalia Mudavadi got what they wanted,” Ngunjiri said.
But Azimio Secretary General Junet Mohamed refused to be dragged into the debate. “They are within their rights to express themselves. “
Minority Whip Opiyo Wandati, however, dismissed Kioni and Ngunjiri, saying they are pushing individual interests.
“ODM is a movement, and we will continue to push for accountability in government.. We will not be part of their plans.”
Ngunjiri said they have consulted widely and that they will do everything they can to ensure the Kenya Kwanza government succeeds.
“We are in a new reality. We are continuing the discussion around what our role under this new dispensation will be,” he said. “We agreed that fundamentally we must seek to add value wherever we can.”
Kioni said him and other Jubilee leaders were suffering the effects of supporting Raila and it was high time they worked with the government and united Kenyans.
“I have never seen anything like that, where every other community retreats and then it literally gangs up against you. Mt Kenya will have to work together. Whether we are in the government or opposition,”
The leaders said that Mount Kenya will start new negotiations to reorganize and push the Kenyan community agenda.
These developments will widen the fault lines in Azimio coalition which has since August been dogged with allegations of betrayal from each side owing to the coalition’s dismal performance.
ODM and Jubilee have been trading accusations on who was to blame for the Azimio defeat although former President Uhuru Kenyatta and Martha Karua have stated in the past that Raila is still their leader.