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Raila lays ground for Uhuru's June 1 visit

ODM leader Raila Odinga (center) at the Jomo Kenyatta International Stadium Kisumu on 24th May 2021, the venue for this year's Madaraka Day celebrations. (Collins Oduor, Standard)

Orange party leader Raila Odinga yesterday sought to quell divisions in his Nyanza backyard, as well as the disquiet over the Building Bridges Initiative, ahead of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s visit of the region next week.

Raila assured residents that the constitutional amendments were on course despite the High Court judgment and that BBI proponents would carry the day at the Court of Appeal.

The former premier stormed Kisumu town unannounced on Sunday and retreated to his residence before holding meetings with various leaders on how to accord the Head of State a warm welcome, region’s agenda and the need for a show of unity during the Madaraka Day celebrations on June 1.

During the visit, Uhuru is expected to launch various multi-billion-shilling projects which were started following his handshake with Raila. 

A number of projects have been initiated in the lakeside city in the last two years, among them the Kisumu Port, Jomo Kenyatta International Stadium, the renovation of the Nakuru-Kisumu railway line, Uhuru Business Park and Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Sports Complex.

Uhuru and Raila are expected to travel to Kisumu from Nakuru by train, to mark the resumption of rail services that are expected to ease movement to Western Kenya and boost the region’s economy.

Tension had been building in the town over the court’s judgement on BBI and the massive demolition of structures by Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o’s government and the Kenya Railways to pave way for development.

ODM leaders have been divided over the contents of the BBI Bill, with Siaya Senator James Orengo and Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo earlier expressing discontent over additional constituencies expected to be given to Nyanza and Western if the Bill passes. 

The row, fueled by succession politics in the Orange party and battle for various elective seats in 2022, saw Orengo and Amollo exchange bitter words with ODM Chairman John Mbadi and Suna East MP Junet Mohamed, threatening to tear the political outfit down the middle and injuring Raila’s anticipated presidential run.

It took the intervention of Raila to bring Orengo and Amollo back to the fold, and the duo is now expected to join other lawyers to challenge High Court judgment at the Appeal Court.

And in a calculated move yesterday, Raila assured locals that the constitutional reform was on course and that he had assembled his arsenal for the appeal.

“Even Ayub (Job of the Bible) went through suffering, and lost everything before he succeeded. The High Court judgement was just like the temptations Ayub faced, and we will triumph,” said Raila.

On demolitions of structures, Raila defended Nyong’o, likening him to a physician treating a boil, whose actions have to cause pain to the victim, but finally relief.

“When removing the core of a boil, you have to cut a small incision and press to drain the puss. You have to feel pain, but later feel relieved and happy,” said Raila.


Download the BBI Judgement by all seven Judges - Civil Appeal No. E291 of 2021
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