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Raila, Mudavadi in war of words over ‘project’ remark

By Luke Anami | November 27th 2013
Amani coalition leader Musalia Mudavadi (right) with New Ford Kenya Bungoma Senate seat aspirant Musikari Kombo (left) campaign in Webuye Tuesday. [Photo: Benjamin Sakwa/Standard]

By Luke Anami

Kenya: The war of words between former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and UDF party leader Musalia Mudavadi has escalated in campaigns for the Bungoma Senate seat by-election.

Mudavadi, the Amani coalition leader, attacked Raila, noting he suffers from “illusions of greatness and political rhetoric” and is in denial about what he claimed was an implosion in ODM.

In a bare-knuckle attack, Mudavadi, who was Raila’s running mate in the 2007 presidential election, and later became his deputy in the coalition government before their acrimonious falling out ahead of government before their acrimonious falling out ahead of the last polls, dismissed Raila as one whose time is up.

“One cannot masquerade forever. The image of infallibility he projects is meant to hide a tumultuous implosion in his party. And the solution is not to panic and divert attention by dwelling on Musalia,” Mudavadi said yesterday in a terse statement through his aide Kibisu Kabatesi.

He was furious that Raila had branded him and his preferred candidate in the December 19 by-election as ‘Jubilee government projects’.

Raila is backing former CORD Senate Minority Leader Moses Wetang’ula, while Mudavadi is supporting Musikari Kombo. Yesterday, Raila declined to respond to Mudavadi’s attack.

Nine constituencies

The rivalry between Mudavadi, and Raila intensified with 23 days before the nine constituencies that make up Bungoma County go to the polls to elect their Senator after the High Court nullified Wetang’ula’s election in August.

Raila and Mudavadi, who both unsuccessfully vied for the presidency in the March 4 General Election, have intensified campaigns in Bungoma, renewing their rivalry since Mudavadi ditched ODM for UDF on whose ticket he stood for presidency.

The first to throw the salvo was Raila when he branded opponents of the immediate Bungoma County Senator Moses Wetang’ula as projects of the Jubilee government. Raila, who addressed CORD allied supporters last week, said those opposed to Wetang’ula were Jubilee supporters and any attempt to elect the Amani candidate, former Cabinet minister Musikari Kombo, was tantamount to approving the Government’s ‘project’.

But in hard-hitting statement, Mudavadi asked the former PM to stop labelling others as “projects” and accused Raila of personalised attacks.


“There is an unwritten rule of civility in Kenyan politics that national leaders shall not engage in personalised and disparaging attacks. This rule on decent politics has been observed religiously by most, but is inevitably and brazenly broken by Raila Odinga with character assassination and vitriol on other leaders,” Mudavadi said in the statement yesterday.

“He has alleged that my colleagues and I in Amani coalition are using the Bungoma by-election to gain favours from the Government, yet Raila is on record lobbying for an appointment as a mediator.”

Raila declined to respond to the attacks as CORD’s communication team leader Philip Etale said he prefers to concentrate on the issues in the by-election. “Raila will not respond to those claims. Instead he wants to concentrate on the bigger picture, which is campaigning for CORD’s candidate,” Etale said.

Mudavadi, once a great Raila-ally turned foe, told the former PM to stop advising the Luhya community against associating with the Government while he has on several occasions welcomed President Uhuru to his Nyanza backyard.

“Deceit and doublespeak is not attractive to me; Raila welcomes President Uhuru Kenyatta in Nyanza with open arms, but tells the people of Bungoma not to work with the Government. Is there a Kenyatta government for Raila and a Raila colony for the Bungoma people?”

Mudavadi was referring to a time when Raila welcomed President Uhuru on his first visit to Nyanza since ascending to the presidency in April, when both attended the burial of Knut Secretary General David Okuta.

Scold others

He advised Raila against dividing communities in western Kenya, saying a new dawn and consciousness emerged out of the March 4 elections.

“Raila should be the last person to condemn cooperation with any government in power. I remind Raila that he is conspicuous in embracing political cooperation deals with successive regimes and therefore has no moral ground to scold others. Whichever revisionist name maybe fashionable to Raila —NDP/Kanu, LDP/NAK, ODM/PNU under the National Accord and CORD — are all forms of cooperation,” Mudavadi explained.

Another aspirant also took on Wetang’ula, accusing him of terming others as “projects”. Fiery journalist David Makali, who is vying for the same seat as an Independent candidate, termed the remarks from CORD as cheap propaganda meant to deny the people of Bungoma a chance to make a wise choice.

“Where are the new ideas for commerce to grow our county? If you look at the county headquarters in Bungoma town, it is an example of poor planning, and lack of vision. The labels that we are a “project” are meant to hoodwink residents of Bungoma from voting in visionary leaders,” Makali said.

He said both Kombo and Wetang’ula have no new ideas to bring to Bungoma, saying it was time for generational change.

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