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How leaders coined verbal jabs at fete

ODM leader welcomed by his supporters at Kondele.

The complex 2022 succession political matrix yesterday played out during Madaraka Day celebrations in Kisumu, as President Uhuru Kenyatta, his Deputy William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga painted a picture of what could define the race.

The President stressed on why he intended to continue working with Raila, even as he unleashed soft subtle blows on Ruto by discrediting what he termed short-termism.

Although the President did not categorically name his deputy, his choice of words mirrored his previous attacks on the ‘Hustler’ narrative that the DP has been pushing in his campaign agenda.

On the flip side, he heaped praises on Raila. “Whatever the future holds, I will continue looking forward to working with him (Raila) and other leaders. Nimesema asante Jakom (I say thank you).” said Uhuru, to the elation of the ODM leader’s supporters who have been calling on the President to back the former premier for the presidency. 

Uhuru’s sentiments, however, fell short of directly addressing his succession debate but focused on the legacy he intended to achieve, and he praised Raila for helping him build. “I want to thank the Right Honourable Raila Odinga for embracing our national pain over his personal gain when we did the Handshake.  What is more: he did this without asking me for anything. I thank him,” said Uhuru.

“Politicians are obsessed with personal gain, but our national pain disturbs leaders,” he said, adding: “We cannot engage in political stabilisation if we live in political denial. For instance, everyone knows that BBI is good. It is good for our country.  It is even good for those unhappy with it.”

To show his growing tight relationship with Raila, an upbeat Uhuru ‘broke’ protocol to welcome him to address the Madaraka Day celebrations after the DP issued his speech and welcomed him. 

Throughout the celebration, the 2022 political undertones were evident.

When he addressed the crowd at the Kisumu stadium, the DP championed a continuation of the development projects the Jubilee government had initiated. He smartly coined the Hustler narrative in his speech after heaping praises on Uhuru’s scorecard. “Your excellency, the success of the administration that you lead has shown infrastructure development. This brings into sharp focus the next phase of our development; a phase that will give the opportunity to creation of jobs, value and wealth so we can deal with the twin challenges of poverty and unemployment,” he said.

The DP, who has also been struggling to crack Raila’s backyard and western Kenya, reached out to the region in a message that embraced the handshake projects unveiled by the President. He emphasized the importance of a government that promotes unity.

In his 2022 campaign drive, the DP has been advocating a bottom-up approach to economic development. Prior to the visit, his allies had criticised the President for sidelining him during the launch of the projects.

“The administration that you lead is a confirmation that you can develop Kenya equally and bring everyone on board,” said the DP.

Raila recognised and welcomed members of the One Kenya Alliance; Kanu chairman Gideon Moi, Amani National Coalition Musalia Mudavadi and Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka.

Raila highlighted the need for the country to continue fighting poverty, illiteracy and diseases and said the BBI process envisaged addressing the issues and uniting Kenyans.

Raila also recognised elders from Gusii and the western region. He told the crowd the elders had met with their counterparts from the Luo council of elders.

South Africa Water Minister Lindiwe Sisulu also thrilled the crowd when she twice referred to Raila as ‘President’ when she was welcomed to speak by Uhuru.

Yesterday’s Madaraka Day and three-day Uhuru’s visit to Nyanza also appeared to have ratchet up Raila’s push to succeed Uhuru with the ODM leader on Monday having urged his supporters to register as voters in large numbers in readiness for next year’s elections.

He said he was certain the region would not return empty-handed in the polls.

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