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Raila brokers truce among Kisii leaders in unity bid

POLITICS
By Erick Abuga | July 30th 2021

ODM party leader Raila Odinga chats with Interior CS Fred Matiang' i as Kisii Governor James Ongwae and  Suna East MP Junet Mohamed looks on.[Courtesy]

ODM leader Raila Odinga has brokered a truce between Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i and Kisii Governor James Ongwae.

In a meeting at his Karen residence, the leaders who had a bitter fall-out especially after the Bonchari by-election where ODM's Pavel Oimeke won, reportedly agreed to bury the hatchet and work together ahead of 2022 elections.

Kisii region with an estimated 825,433 voters, has previously backed Raila, but saw him lose a number of seats to Jubilee in 2017 elections. In the 2019 census, 980, 273 are over 18 years and eligible to register as voters.

"The leaders have agreed to work together. The meeting was the second one bringing the two leaders together. Kisii region is now for Baba's taking," said a leader aware of the meeting.

Raila convened the meeting also attended by Kisii Senator Sam Ongeri, county MP Janet Ongera and Suna East MP Junet Mohamed.

“Conferred with my friends from Kisii region this morning as our efforts to unite the region and entire country continue. A more inclusive nation is in the offing,” Raila said on his social media pages.

After yesterday’s meeting Governor Ongwae said they had breakfast with Raila. “We all agree that we need to work together and have unity of purpose.”

Prof Ongeri said they didn’t have any political discussion. “There is a need to have unity among our leaders. We are focused and ready for meaningful discussion," said the Senator.

This is a second meeting in a month with the first held on July 1, 2021; to discuss development matters in the Nyanza region.

However, insiders revealed that the real "elephant in the room" was the difference between the two leaders.

The leaders shared pictures to affirm their unity, but their allies confided in The Saturday standard that they failed to reach a truce at a time, there were called to censure Dr Matiangi' for heavy deployment of officers during the mini-polls.

"The first time they failed to agree. Today's meeting was different. The leaders agreed to work together," said another leader.

Yesterday Ms Ongera said; “peace, harmony and unity is the most important thing.”

But after the first meeting, the leaders indicated that their lunch meeting also included ODM treasury Timothy Bosire, Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Chris Obure and National Assembly Deputy Majority Leader Jimmy Agwenyi (Kitutu Chache North) and focused on development.

A separate statement from ODM communications director Philip Etale had suggested that the meeting was called to reconcile Gusii leaders.

Suna East MP Junet Mohamed, Kisii Woman Rep Janet Ongera, Interior CS Fred Matiang' i, ODM party leader Raila Odinga, Kisii Governor James Ongwae and Senator Prof Sam Ongeri after the meeting on Friday morning.[Standard]

"Raila advised the leaders on the importance of working together irrespective of their political difference, stressing that it is solely to the benefit of the people," Raila was quoted then. 

The ex-PM told them to put aside their difference occasioned by the mini-polls developments and pull together.

He is reported to have reminded the leaders about the significance of the Handshake between him and President Uhuru Kenyatta at the time they had sharp differences over the presidential election and advised them not to allow politics to divide them.

ODM leadership in Gusii region had differed with Dr Matiang’i in May when police officers, believed to have been acting on instructions from the regional security team, raided Ongwae’s home and dispersed a gathering on the eve of the Bonchari by-election.

Police officers also arrested and locked up the ODM treasurer; Bosire. 

Ongwae, Ongera, Ongeri and ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna would later address the media as Ongwae was having dinner at his residence when a contingent of about 50 security officers stormed his residence, saying he was having a meeting past curfew hours.

On Thursday evening, the leaders had also attended a funds drive in Nairobi for the late Jane Bosire; Bosire's wife.

The leaders are also likely to meet on Monday at Nyamwanga, Kitutu Masaba Nyamira County at the funeral.

There have been calls to unite the Gusii political leadership, especially at a time when ODM is making all efforts in a bid to clinch the presidency in 2022.

The meeting also comes at a time when leaders have been planning to have a top politician from the region or Dr Matiangi bestowed as the community’s kingpin.

However, the talks seem to have hit a dead end as a result of the split occasioned by the by-election.

Although majority of Gusii community leaders had rallied behind Matiang’i, the by-election sparked divisions after Handshake Partners Jubilee Party and ODM fielded separate candidates for the seat.

Unity among top Kisii leaders will be a major blow to Deputy President William Ruto who has been making inroads in Kisii, Migori and Nyamira.

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