Raila Odinga: No meeting President Ruto behind our backs

Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya leader Raila Odinga. [File, Standard]

Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya leader Raila Odinga has asked the coalition's elected and nominated leaders to first seek clearance from Azimio's leadership before meeting President William Ruto.

Odinga termed a breach of this directive betrayal.

He spoke on Thursday, February 9 at the Maanzoni Lodge in Machakos County during the Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya Parliamentary Group meeting.

"I have no problem with any of you meeting [President] Ruto. However, if you want to meet him and talk about our party, then you must first seek clearance from the coalition's leadership or your respective parties' leadership," Odinga said during the meeting with lawmakers from ODM, Jubilee, Wiper and several other parties.

Several Jubilee Party MPs did not attend the PG meeting.

Odinga said its MPs who are warming up to Kenya Kwanza should resign and seek re-election through new parties.

The remarks by Odinga come three days after seven ODM legislators, including Lang'ata MP Phelix Odiwuor alias Jalang'o and Kisumu Senator Prof. Tom Ojienda, visited President Ruto at State House, Nairobi.

The MPs said their talks with Ruto were anchored on development, and not politics.

At the PG meeting on Thursday, Jalang'o was thrown out of the venue over alleged disloyalty to ODM.

Migori Senator Eddy Gicheru Oketch has since written to ODM to deregister Jalang'o and the other six legislators over disloyalty to the party. If deregistered, without filing an appeal in court, the MPs will have to seek re-election.

ODM's Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna said in a statement on Thursday that appropriate action will be taken upon giving the seven a right of fair hearing.

Earlier, while addressing parliamentarians at the Thursday PG meeting in Maanzoni, Jubilee Party Secretary-General Jeremiah Kioni warned its members against skipping Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya anti-Ruto rallies.

Kioni further warned its members against warming up to President Ruto-led Kenya Kwanza Coalition.

About 30 MPs belonging to Jubilee Party have since pledged loyalty to the Head of State after their Wednesday meeting with Ruto at State House, Nairobi.

Kioni has asked them to resign so that they can seek fresh mandate from the electorate.

Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka alleged that President Ruto had approached its MPs from Makueni County, and asked them to visit him at State House, Nairobi, but the lawmakers refused.

"We are suffering the reversal of democracy gains," said Musyoka, alluding to Ruto's quest to onboard many MPs from the opposition.

"If you are called [for a meeting] by the president, please have the courtesy to inform your party leadership," said Musyoka.

On Jalang'o's ejection from Maanzoni Lodge, the Wiper Party leader said he will look for the MP and have a gentleman-to-gentleman talk with him.

"I'm going to look for him. When someone has expressed interest in apologising, the best thing that you can do, is to listen to him. I can only imagine the state of mind Jalang'o is in right now," said Musyoka.

At the same time, Musyoka maintained that Azimio la Umoja's presidential candidate Raila Odinga won the election with 8.1 million votes against Ruto's 5.9 million.

"The Kenya Kwanza Coalition is yet to counter those claims revealed to us by an IEBC whistleblower," he said.

Former Defence Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa alleged that President Ruto's administration is targeting key officers who served during President Uhuru Kenyatta's administration.

"I've lost all my four security officers to the State, the government recalled all of them," he said at the PG meeting.

(Additional reporting by Emmanuel Too)