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Raila pleads with Meru leaders and miraa farmers to back Opposition

By Allan Mungai | February 28th 2017
NASA CO Principal and ODM leader Raila Odinga addressing a crowd at Timau trading centre Meru County. 27th Feb 2016. By Emmanual Winson

Opposition leaders yesterday pleaded with Meru leaders to join them in dislodging Jubilee Party from power in the August 8 polls.

Paying glowing tribute to Meru Senator Kiraitu Murungi as a nationalist, a seasoned politician and leader of the second liberation, Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka led other Opposition leaders in pleading with the senator to join their camp.

Meru was the next destination for the National Super Alliance (NASA) bigwigs after a successful rally in William Ruto’s Eldoret backyard at the weekend.

The Opposition appears determined to bring competition to President Uhuru Kenyatta and Ruto’s doorstep by intensifying their campaigns in the areas perceived to be Jubilee’s strongholds. The two kicked off their two-day tour of the Mt Kenya East counties with a passionate plea to Meru residents to give NASA a chance to reform the country.

Raila began the rallies in Timau alone before he was joined by Kalonzo in Meru. During a stop in Makutano, Raila and Kalonzo pointed out that Kiraitu — a key Jubilee pillar in the region — was already having doubts about merging parties to form Jubilee.

“If Kiraitu has accepted that Jubilee is a mistake and he is politically experienced, then it really is a mistake,” said Kalonzo.

The Opposition leaders got a rousing welcome in Timau and Makutano despite the fact that some youths barricaded the entrance of the Meru bus stage — the venue of the rally.  Raila opted for a rally outside the park.

He said he did not have anything against Jubilee or Uhuru but was merely concerned about the direction they were driving the country.

“He (Uhuru) is my friend but corruption and insecurity are now entrenched in the country. The Jubilee government is overseeing the collapse of our economy,” Raila said.

At Laare, Tigania West, a mammoth crowd waited patiently to hear from the former prime minister who arrived a few minutes past 4pm to a rousing welcome. The crowd cheered and waved orange hammers, referring to the Opposition chief’s ability to repair the nation.

Raila described the current state of the country as broken and sick.

“We worked with them but they did not learn anything from me. They have grounded this country. The economy was at 6 per cent when they took over from former President Mwai Kibaki and I but in four years, they have plunged the country into a crisis,” Raila said.

He accused the Government of launching projects that were not in the budget out of desperation to make it appear like they were working.

He asked residents in Laare in Igembe North, and Kiutine in Igembe Central, not to believe Uhuru when he visited Meru to launch road projects.

“Uhuru will come here to launch projects. He will be trying to hoodwink you because as soon as he leaves, the tractor will be taken to the store,” said Raila.

Kalonzo also urged Meru residents to help end tribalism and non-inclusiveness in Government.

“We want an all-inclusive government that will accommodate all communities in the country,” he said, adding that Jubilee had sidelined Meru but was now trying to endear itself to the region since the election was approaching.

Touching on Miraa farming - an economic lifeline in the region - Kalonzo said the Sh1 billion promised to farmers was a pipe dream designed to enslave them to the Jubilee coalition.

“If that money was really coming it would have been here by now,” said Kalonzo.

The leaders also blamed the Jubilee government for the plight of miraa farmers, who they said were suffering in the wake of a ban on miraa sales in European markets.

Raila said the Government had failed to intervene after Somalia had increased taxes on the crop, the mainstay of thousands of residents and traders.

Speaking in Laare town, Raila said the miraa task force appointed by Uhuru had failed to resuscitate the sector’s growth.

“Miraa farmers are seriously suffering. We as NASA will ensure that we get new markets,” he said.

He said it was a waste of tax payers’ money to appoint a task force as it had not delivered the findings or remedies.

“The miraa task force should be dissolved because it’s waste of money,” he said.

As he chewed twigs of miraa and spoke to the huge crowd that thronged the area, Raila said Kenyans would see good change in NASA’s first three months if they beat Jubilee Party in the polls.

“Miraa, coffee and tea farmers are a disillusioned lot because the Government is not supporting them,” he said.

Raila said agriculture in the country was suffering from under-funding to key departments and a reluctance to implement reform.

“This job is too heavy for them; let Uhuru and Ruto go home and let NASA save the country,” he stated.

The leaders are expected to take their campaigns to Tharaka Nithi County today.

— Additional reporting by Phares Mutembei and Rawlings Otieno


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