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Mt Kenya leaders reassure Raila on 2022

NATIONAL
By Josphat Thiongó | June 20th 2021

ODM leader Raila Odinga. [File, Standard]

Opposition leader Raila Odinga reportedly cut short his Coast tour after President Uhuru Kenyatta asked him to represent him at a Mt Kenya business leaders’ meeting.

The president, who is in Turkey for a State visit, was to attend Friday’s night meeting with businessmen and women in Nairobi.

Sources said Raila accepted to represent the president just hours after attending the requiem mass of businessman Chris Kirubi. President Kenyatta was meant to get a briefing on a planned tour to Mt Kenya.

The participants reportedly lauded President Kenyatta and Raila’s Handshake in 2018, which enabled them to conduct business in a peaceful environment.

The Friday night meeting at the Two Rivers Mall lifted the lid on the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader’s continuous in-roads into Central, where he is intent on popularising his anticipated fifth stab at the presidency.

The meeting was also meant to come up with a roadmap for a joint tour of Mt Kenya.

“The business leaders thanked Uhuru and Raila for rising above individual interests to shake hands and ensure peaceful co-existence among Kenyans. They said the business environment was stable and allowed them to open their businesses closed during the daily skirmishes,” a source told The Sunday Standard.

They reportedly told Raila, who was accompanied by Senate Minority Leader James Orengo, that when the Kikuyus and Luos work together, there is peace in the country.

Presidential bid

As a follow-up to the meeting, the Handshake duo would craft a timetable for a tour of Mt Kenya.

During Uhuru’s latest visit to Nyanza, the leadership questioned why he is yet to take Raila on a tour of Central to popularise the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).

This comes at a time Deputy President William Ruto has pitched tent in the region to rally support for his presidential bid.

 Some leaders present at the Friday night meeting included nominated MP Maina Kamanda, former Nairobi Deputy Governor Polycarp Igathe and former presidential candidate Peter Kenneth.

Kamanda said uniting the mountain region to support Raila featured in the meeting.

“We spoke on uniting the country and rallying behind our people for any eventuality in case the BBI is not in the picture. The meeting was also to affirm that we are behind him (Raila) come 2022 if he declares he is running for the presidency,” said Kamanda.

He said similar meetings will be held in Ruiru and Murang’a, Nyandarua and Kirinyaga where Raila is also expected to attend.

“Raila has not toured Central and people are anxiously waiting for his visit. We want the BBI issue sorted out so that Uhuru and Raila can tour the region and popularise it,” added Kamanda.

The businessmen also appealed to the former Prime Minister to petition President Kenyatta to lower Value Added Tax (VAT) on goods.

Raila is considered as one of the front-runners for the 2022 presidential elections though he has not publicly declared that he will be in the race. Votes from the Mt Kenya basket would be a massive boost for his candidacy should he run.

His meeting with the businessmen follows another in April with Mt Kenya elders met at his Karen home. In December 2020, the ODM leader met with the Council of Eminent Persons of Murang’a including chair Joe Kibe, secretary Nyamu Njoka, James Ngethe and Royal Media Services chair SK Macharia. The meeting was held at Raila’s Opoda Farm in Bondo, Siaya County.

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