Uhuru’s night call that calmed Raila
By Moses Nyamori and Roselyne Obala | March 8th 2021
ODM leader Raila Odinga cancelled his much-publicised rally at the famous Kamukunji grounds in Kibra constituency, Nairobi, at the last minute amid reports of a phone call by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The President reportedly reached out to Raila hours after his allies Siaya Senator James Orengo and Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo threatened that ODM could bolt out of the working arrangement with Jubilee due to alleged interference by powerful individuals at the Office of the President.
The Standard yesterday learnt that the remarks by the two lawmakers had the blessings of Raila, following claims that a Cabinet Secretary and Interior Principal Secretary Kibicho Karanja were trying to meddle with the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) .
There are fears that state mandarins were favouring one side of the handshake team, and may be bidding their time with Raila. Thursday’s Matungu election outcome is said to have triggered this awakening.
“The President talked with Raila last night,” said an official, who could not provide further details about the deliberations by the two leaders. It is believed that the leaders agreed to focus on the bigger picture, and Raila to call his troops to order.
Mobilisation of supporters
Yesterday, despite the night mobilisation of Raila’s supporters to attend the event, the former premier failed to turn up for the church function and the planned rally.
Some of the locals who turned up for the church service that was to precede the public rally at Kamukunji grounds told The Standard that they were mobilised on Saturday night for the event.
They were, however, addressed by ODM MPs led by Makadara MP and ODM party Nairobi branch chairman George Aladwa, who said that Raila was scheduled to attend the rally.
Mr Aladwa delivered Raila’s apologies and disclosed that the party had decided not to conduct party elections over claims that powerful individuals were planning to plant moles so as to frustrate his (Raila) 2022 presidential bid.
“I have a special message from Raila…. because he was supposed to be here today and we were expecting him,” the MP said.
He added, “On the issue of the grassroots elections, we have agreed that there will be no elections, instead we shall have harmonisation because some rogue people are planning to infiltrate our elections and destroy it and say ODM is a party that loves chaos.”
But National Assembly Minority Leader Junet Mohammed said that Raila had not confirmed his attendance to the rally that was organised by Nairobi ODM MPs.
“This was a rally organised by the ODM caucus. There was no confirmation that Raila was to attend it,” said Junet.
National Assembly Deputy Majority Whip and Igembe North MP Maoka Maore revealed that there were individuals in government who have been uncomfortable with Raila working with Uhuru.
He urged the top leaders to address the grievances, which are likely to frustrate the Executive agenda in Parliament.
“In a political marriage there must be normal commotion. It will be sorted. I can tell you that some government officials are not comfortable with ODM,” said Maore.
“They should be ashamed of themselves to fight someone who brought peace. The grievances by ODM have to be addressed before they spills over into the operations of government and Parliament,” he added.
An ODM official said they may boycott the planned March 9, 2018 Handshake anniversary in protest of a scheme to undermine Raila by some state officers.
“If they are not careful even the Handshake anniversary we will give a wide berth. What do we stand to lose? What have we achieved in the three years of our cooperation?” Posed a senior ODM official.
ODM side declared that they will not allow the Interior PS to cause confusion in BBI drive. Junet accused Kibicho of trying to hijack the push to amend the 2010 Constitution by sideling the political class in the campaigns, demanding that the President removes the PS from the process.
He said they expect Uhuru and Raila to address issues that may derail the planned June referendum.
“Our position is very clear that it be done by the political leaders not by technocrats or anybody else. Those are our rules of engagement. We have realised that Kibicho is overstepping his mandate. We don’t want to see him within the BBI circle because he is causing a lot of confusion,” said Junet.
ODM leadership believes that some officials at Harambee House meddled in the Matungu by-election that saw ANC’s Peter Nabulindo floor ODM’s David Were.
ODM is reportedly uncomfortable with allegations that Kibicho met with Mudavadi, and therefore meddled in the by-election to propel his presidential aspirations in Western region, locking out Raila.
ODM deputy party leader and Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya yesterday said there was no election in Matungu, citing violence witnessed in the polling stations.
“What can you say with the kind of interference in the by-election? There was no election in Matungu but we want to move on and focus on other things,” said Oparanya.
But a senior JP official yesterday tore into the ODM brigade accusing them of being intolerant and attributed their sentiments to the loss in the Matungu by-election. Also the top official justified President Kenyatta’s government decision to domicile the BBI secretariat at Harambee, arguing that the process is best midwifed by non-politicians.
“From the message you can see selfish individuals who are intolerant especially after they lost the Matungu by-election, which they have accused the state of interference,” said the official.
BBI co-chair Dennis Waweru, dismissed ODM protests as a “storm in a tea cup.”
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