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Western leaders hold strategy meeting, eye bigger stake in politics

By Allan Mungai | May 30th 2020
Luhya leaders including Senators, Governors, CSs, and MPs after meeting at Francis Atwoli's home in Kajiado. [Jonah Onyango/Standard]

Leaders from western Kenya yesterday met to chart a new political path for the vote-rich region.

In a meeting that brought together 40 local legislators, the team sought to speak in one voice going forward. However, Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi and his Ford Kenya counterpart Moses Wetangula were absent.

But even as leaders met to seek the elusive Luhya unity, Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa and Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya came out knighted as the regions political leaders in what observers say could lead to fresh divisions.

After the four hour-meeting, Wamalwa and Oparanya as well as Cotu Secretary General Francis Atwoli were picked to represent the Western on the negotiation table with the government.

They now carry the responsibility of presenting western Kenya's demands to the Building Bridges Initiative spearheaded by President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga for a share of the spoils of the handshake.

The leaders will also be tasked with reaching out to other communities "to form a new transformative Kenya that will be all inclusive." This is just the latest attempt by the Luhya community to unite ahead of the 2022 elections.

Ejection of errant members

The mood at the meeting held at Atwoli's home in Kajiado was that a reorganisation of the Cabinet was apparent and western Kenya needs to seize the opportunity to get its leaders into key posts.

They said the region had not leveraged on their numbers to earn key appointments, unlike their counterparts from North Eastern. 

Yet as the leaders were crafting the region's future, Mudavadi was in a meeting with former presidential aspirants Peter Kenneth and Martha Karua in a Nairobi hotel.

Atwoli said that while the ANC and Ford Kenya leaders had been invited, their absence was of no consequence since the meeting was mainly to discuss how western would benefit from the BBI.

"The handshake was for two people only, President Kenyatta and Raila. Musalia and Wetang'ula are not part of it," he said.

But Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala said Mudavadi and Wetang'ula had semt their apologies for missing the meeting.

"By working together, we have agreed that we must have a definite route. Our unity will bring us on the same table as Uhuru and Raila . We have given proposal of areas that we need to be looked at," he said.

The region is also hungry for some opportunities that will come their way courtesy of the fallout within the Jubilee government and the National Super Alliance (Nasa) that resulted in the ejection of errant members from key House committees.

Ahead of a parliamentary group meeting of Nasa affiliate parties, the group proposed six names from amongst the leaders who would step up and take positions as chairpersons and vice chairpersons in the National Assembly and Senate committees.

"There are leaders that we have chosen to represent us and negotiate on our behalf. We have agreed that there are realignments and those leaders will make sure that we get leadership positions," Mr Malala said.

Atwoli said unity of the region was not elusive as it has been made to appear.

"For those who have been doubting, because I have been telling you now and again that western Kenya is united. This is not just a Luhya affair. We have everyone here who lives in western Kenya and we are going to speak in one voice," Atwoli said.

They meeting was attended by 34 members of the National Assembly, six Senators, Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka and Nairobi County Assembly Speaker Beatrice Elachi.

The leaders called for completion of ongoing projects and rehabilitation of infrastructure.

They also want the government to prioritise the revival and revitalisation of the sugar industry and to have coffee and dairy farmers benefit from the Sh3 billion Cherry Fund and Sh300 million Dairy Fund.

Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa (Ford-K), who lost the Deputy Minority Whip to Tongaren MP Eseli Simiyu, was absent.

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