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Gusii leaders, CSs endorse Raila for State House contest

By Eric Abuga and Stanley Ongwae | October 23rd 2021

ODM leader Raila Odinga at fund drive in Mwongori High School in Nyamira County. [Emmanuel Wanson,Standard]

Gusii leaders are the latest to join the list of those who have endorsed ODM leader Raila Odinga’s presidential bid following his countrywide campaign drives.

Yesterday, Raila took his campaigns to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta in next year’s contest to Gusii land where leaders buried their political differences and rallied behind him. They called on the One Kenya Alliance (OKA) principals to work with him, and field one candidate to face off with Deputy President William Ruto.

OKA leaders include Musalia Mudavadi (ANC), Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper), Senator Gideon Moi (Kanu) and Ford Kenya leader Senator Moses Wetang’ula.

Hosted by Borabu MP Ben Momanyi (Wiper) in Nyamira County for a fundsdrive for the completion of a 1,200-bed dormitory in Mwongori High School, the leaders credited the peace enjoyed across the country to the Handshake between Uhuru and Raila after the divisive 2017 polls. They included Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, Kisii Governor James Ongwae, his Nyamira counterpart Amos Nyaribo and Nyamira Senator Okong’o Omogeni.

Raila disclosed that President Kenyatta vetoed calls to arrest Raila during his mock swearing in as the People’s President on January 30, 2018 at Uhuru Park, on grounds the move could plunge the country into a civil war.

Raila, who never saw eye-to-eye with Dr Matiang’i and most of the other Jubilee administration brigade prior to his Handshake with Uhuru, yesterday praised the Interior CS as hardworking and non-tribal.

“People have voluntarily turned up in large numbers to welcome you (Raila). I plead with the opposition leaders (OKA) you worked with before to join you and support you for one term. We were strong together (defunct National Super Alliance). If you join forces, we will win at 8am. All party leaders should talk together,” said Momanyi.

Kitutu Chache North MP Jimmy Agwenyi said: “Because of the Handshake, we are enjoying peace. Kisiis are all over in this country and peace is what we are yearning for. Uhuru resolved to work with Raila and the fruits have come to Nyanza. Raila is the fifth president.”

Angwenyi was a fierce defender of Uhuru and Ruto in the 2013 and 2017 presidential polls.

Ongwae said just like the first declaration made at Sikri Technical Institute in Homa Bay County in August, paving the way for Raila to woo Kenyans to back his presidential bid, the leaders had agreed to back him.

The county chief said Kisii and Nyamira counties will remain united.

“We are one people. We have fought hard to get to power. Raila will remain our project for the 2022 politics,” Ongwae said.

He explained that the region has had a number of by-elections and ODM won all.

“We have sat down with Raila and we are all in agreement that we support Raila’s candidature. Our region is ready for his presidency. We are assured goodies will come to our region once we form the next government.”

Seal loopholes

Ongwae called on locals to register as voters. “Let us seal all the loopholes that will derail the journey to State House. Let’s fight for more positions in the national government,” he said.

Raila said he had intended to back Matiang’i for the presidency, but instead the Cabinet secretary asked him to go for the seat “first”.

The ODM leader, whose sentiments showed he was focused on the presidential race despite not having officially declared that he will vie, was endorsed by Matiang’i, Defence CS Eugene Wamalwa and Health CS Mutahi Kagwe as best suited to succeed Uhuru.

Raila said the CSs fully backed his Azimio la Umoja initiative with Wamalwa, adding that with Nyanza solidly behind the ODM leader, he will also mobilise Western to back him.

Raila said he was aware of the region’s political direction, saying he was ready to work with Matiang’i and Ongwae.

“We are together as a team. Matiang’i and Ongwae are intelligent individuals who believe in one united Kenya and not only Gusii, just like myself. There is a lot of hatred and tension in the country. We need to deal with these issues,” Raila said.

Matiang’i said he had held meetings with Raila and he was willing to support him. “The Handshake gave me the opportunity to support him. I have looked across the country and I am sure majority of Kenyans are supporting the Handshake,” he said.

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