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Raila: Uhuru will never betray me

POLITICS
By Harold Odhiambo and Kepher Otieno | February 9th 2021

ODM leader Raila Odinga addresses delegates during the Nyanza leaders' BBI consultative meeting in Kisumu, yesterday. [Denish Ochieng', Standard]

ODM leader Raila Odinga has sought to assure Kenyans that President Uhuru Kenyatta will not betray him in their ‘handshake’ deal.

The Opposition chief said his partnership with the President was firm and grounded on the promise of making a better country and stamping their authority on the legacy they intend to leave.

Raila spoke as he recounted elaborately the tough negotiations he had with Uhuru before agreeing on the handshake deal.

He noted that the process was difficult and that they engaged in talks for hours before they came up with the points that birthed the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).

“We had lengthy discussions with President Uhuru Kenyatta. Before we agreed on issues, he (Uhuru) brought his issues and I also brought mine. We looked at the resolutions and that is when we shook hands,” said Raila.

At the end of a meeting yesterday, his Orange party leaders from Kisumu, Migori, Homa Bay and Siaya counties also gave him the greenlight to strengthen his relationship with Uhuru and declared it part of their resolutions.

“That we mandate and encourage HE Raila Odinga to renew and strengthen his working relationship with President Uhuru Kenyatta and give the President the support and backing he needs to delivers to Kenyans,” said Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o, who read the resolutions.

The party said it “urgently delinks the handshake and the BBI from the 2022 election politics to allow Kenyans to debate the issues soberly” as well as allow the president to continue with his quest to deliver critical services to Kenyans.

In the recent past, talk has been rife of potential fallout between the two former foes turned allies, with some in Raila’s camp said to have cold feet about Uhuru’s support for the bid to change the constitution.

Allayed fears

Raila yesterday allayed fears of betrayal and said his relationship with Uhuru was intact. He said there would be no betrayal or backtracking in their resolve to change the Constitution.

Raila believes their agreement was based on trust and their vision for a better Kenya and that informs his belief that the President will not betray him. He also vowed not to disappoint the president.

“What we want to see is a united Kenya. We want a nation that upholds what is embodied in our national anthem so that plenty can be found within our borders. So we must dwell in unity,” he said

Raila has evaded the 2022 succession talk in a bid to keep his relationship with Uhuru intact as well as rally support for their brainchild - BBI.

During the meeting, Raila, who sought to consolidate support for the initiative, explained why the country needed the position of a prime minister, as envisaged in the BBI.

He gave weight to a parliamentary system of governance and said it would be instrumental in changing the fortunes of the country.

“Do we need the position of the Prime Minister? The answer is yes. Most of the successful countries have embraced the system and have a Prime Minister,” said Raila.

He cited Germany, Israel and India as some of the countries that had become successful because of the position he claims had been functioning perfectly.

Raila recalled the Coalition government that he shared with former President Mwai Kibaki, which he described as a success because of the system akin to a parliamentary system that they embraced.

By introducing the position of the Prime Minister, Raila argued, it will be easier for legislators to question the government and hold them accountable for any issues arising from the usage of public resources. “Having a prime minister means that the executive will be in Parliament and can be accountable to Parliament,” said Raila.

Raila spoke at Ciala Resort in Kisumu, where he had convened a meeting with his ODM brigade to whip leaders from the region to back BBI, consolidate his support and strengthen the Orange party.

Leaders who spoke said they would rally other members to ensure they passed the Constitutional (Amendment) Bill 2020 within seven days.

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