Battle for Mt Kenya intensifies as Raila visits

ODM leader Raila Odinga arrives at Safari Park Hotel for a meeting with Mt Kenya leaders. [Emmanuel Wanson, Standard]

The battle to control and woo Mount Kenya voters continues as the 2022 General Election nears. Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga dismissed claims by Deputy President William Ruto that Mt Kenya is his stronghold.

Speaking in Nyahururu yesterday after attending a church service at AIC church Naivasha, Raila said he does not need permission from anyone to climb the mountain.

On Saturday, Ruto, while in Laikipia, said the ODM leader was welcome to Mt Kenya, but the residents had already decided on their preferred presidential candidate.

Raila visited Naivasha, Nyahururu, Subukia and Nakuru. He was accompanied by governors Lee Kinyanjui (Nakuru), Ndiritu Muriithi (Laikipia), MPs Junet Mohammed (Suna East), Kanini Kega (Kieni), and nominated MP Maina Kamanda.

“Nyahururu is the starting point towards climbing the mountain. I heard some people yesterday bark that Raila must get their permission to enter the mountain,” Raila said.

He said Jaramogi Oginga Odinga had entered the mountain first and made sure Jomo Kenyatta was released from prison to become Kenya’s first president.

He said he followed his father’s footsteps and supported former President Mwai Kibaki.

“Raila climbed the mountain a long time ago when he supported Kibaki. When I said Kibaki Tosha, I knew he was a Kikuyu, and Kikuyus are Kenyans,” he said.

Raila said he was at the forefront of campaigning for Kibaki after he was involved in a road accident and Ruto was nowhere to be seen.

Former President Mwai Kibaki (L) with ODM leader Raila Odinga. [Courtesy]

According to the ODM leader, while at the top of the mountain, he had seen a new Kenya and the glory in it.

“Raila is a friend to the people of Mt Kenya. I went to the mountain top and saw the new Kenya. I know that we can walk there together. This is the Kenya our forefathers wanted,” he said.

Raila said it was a new dawn and the people should head to work and start liberating the country. “The first liberation gave us independence, the second gave us a new Constitution, and the third is economic liberation.”

He said the youth must get better jobs and not be employed to push wheelbarrows. He promised to ensure that those without jobs get a monthly stipend of Sh6,000 from the government.

On the Building Bridges Initiative, Raila said reggae would resume once he assumes office. “We want to liberate our country from the economic crisis and end corruption.” 

Governor Ndiritu said he would support Raila because he supported Kibaki in 2002 and supported President Uhuru Kenyatta through the handshake.

Governor Kinyanjui said he had visited Subukia to show the residents that Kenya is one. He said he is among the leaders who would take Raila to the mountain.

ODM leader Raila Odinga with Governor Lee Kinyanjui in Elburgon, Nakuru. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Junet condemned Ruto for calling Mt Kenya his playground. “Sugoi is not even close to the mountain. Ruto should stop thinking that he owns the mountain.”

Kanini Kega said the only people who can bar Raila from the mountain are the voters.

Former Mungiki leader Maina Njenga said they were walking with the fifth president of Kenya. “We welcome Raila to Mt Kenya and give him permission on behalf of Kenyans.”

Maina Kamanda warned residents of Subukia against being lied to by leaders.

The ODM leader said he followed his father’s footsteps and supported former President Kibaki in 2002.

Leaders present said the only people who could bar Raila from reaching the mountain are the voters.