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Raila no show in church as Azimio leaders steer clear of politics in Ruiru

 From right to left: Azimio One Kenya Coalition leaders, Martha Karua Kalonzo Musyoka, Jeremiah Kioni and Eugene Wamalwa among others at African International Pentecostal Church of Africa in Ruiru Kiambu County on Sunday, April 2, 2023. [Samson Wire. Standard]

Opposition leader Raila Odinga failed to attend a church service at AIPCA Ruiru town in Kiambu County on Sunday, April 2, one day before what he had termed a mega demonstration in Nairobi.

Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka, Narc-Kenya party leader Martha Karua, DAP-K's Eugene Wamalwa and Jubilee Secretary General Jeremiah Kioni steered clear of politics.

The Azimio leaders present were forced to keep away from politics after the church leaders made it clear that no politician would be allowed in the church and that the few leaders who were present would only be allowed to greet the congregants and take their seats.

Raila’s Security and Communication teams had arrived at the church early in readiness for his arrival for the Palm Sunday service.

Still, instead, he was nowhere to be seen over what was attributed to differences among congregants, with some saying they want nothing to do with politics.

A source in the Azimio coalition told The Standard that Raila failed to turn up after learning of divisions and that he did not want his attendance to cause any conflict among church members.

He then opted to stay away and let his coalition leaders represent him instead.

“Raila, Kalonzo and Karua were to attend different church services within Ruiru town and later come together to address area residents after, but two of the churches declined to hot them, with the leaders deciding to go to AIPCA instead,” said the sources who requested anonymity.

Some members engaged in an altercation outside the church as the service went on, with some who appeared opposed to the presence of Azimio leaders questioning why they were not informed. Others said everyone should be allowed to attend church.

When Karua stood up to speak, she said she would not engage in politics.

She said that Kenya belongs to all citizens and that nobody can get rid of their fellow citizens. Karua added that there is a need to accommodate all for the good of the present and future generations.

“We can only have harmony in the country if those who are feuding are ready to listen to each other and respect the rights of each other. Kenyans should know that peace comes from loving each other."

Kalonzo spoke of his many years of good relations with the leadership of the AIPCA Church, recalling that he worked closely with late Archbishop Samson Gaitho in safeguarding church-sponsored schools while he served as the Education Minister.

The former Vice President said that after listening to the church leadership, they would keep off politics and would not even address the media after the church service, recalling his role as a peace mediator in various African countries while serving in government.

“I have been a peace mediator in Somalia, Sudan, and Congo, among other African countries. I believe God will enable us to solve our problems as a country. We should remember where we have come from as a nation and not repeat our mistakes,” he said.

Wamalwa told the congregants that Azimio leaders are peace-loving and want the best for the country. He said they would not engage in politics in the church.

Kioni clarified that they had come to worship with the church members and not to engage in politics.  

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