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March 22, 2018

Uhuru, Raila to start countrywide tours

President Uhuru Kenyatta during a Sunday Mass at Loreto Convent Msongari Girls' High School Chapel, March 11, 2018. /PSCU
President Uhuru Kenyatta during a Sunday Mass at Loreto Convent Msongari Girls' High School Chapel, March 11, 2018. /PSCU

President Uhuru Kenyatta is organising an elaborate tour of Opposition Chief Raila Odinga’s strongholds following their surprise truce that promises to radically alter the country’s political landscape.

These details emerged as the political earthquake of the surprise deal continues to reverberate, with both the ruling Jubilee Party and National Super Alliance shaken to the core.

Today, the four NASA co-principals will come face- to-face in a make-or-break meeting that will determine the future of the one-year-old coalition.

Raila is expected to give his colleagues a detailed account of what the deal with Uhuru is all about.

The three principals – Kalonzo, Mudavadi and Wetang’ula – have all confessed to not being in the picture about Friday’s Harambee House, Office of the President,  meeting that has complicated the political equation in the Opposition outfit.

See: [VIDEO] Mudavadi trashes Uhuru-Raila pact, says not reflecting the will of Kenyans

Also read: Joho to Mudavadi: It's time for peace and not war, embrace unity pact

Raila will today face his partners and explain the initial secrecy of the deal, even as he will try to shed off the “betrayer” label that the lieutenants of the three principals have tagged him with.

Whichever way today’s talks go, it is certain that they will have a bearing on NASA’s future.

Even as the co-principals have been protesting non-inclusion during the Friday talks, Raila has maintained his silence, choosing not to respond on the deal that is now in the hands of a two-man committee. Ambassador Martin Kimani, head of the Counterterrorism Centre in the Office of the President and Raila lawyer and confidant Paul Mwangi comprise the committee.

The NASA leader after the Harambee House meeting flew to his Opoda home in Bondo, where he spent the weekend. “He has been in Bondo, but will be in Nairobi on Monday to meet his colleagues in NASA,” said an aide to the former PM. 

It is not rosy either in Jubilee, with Senate Deputy Speaker Kithure Kindiki publicly warning that Raila could scuttle Deputy President William Ruto’s 2022 succession plan.

“Raila has a history of breaking up parties whenever he joins coalitions...he teamed up with KANU in 1997, using the LDP, only to implode it from within,” Kindiki, a close ally of the DP, warned, lifting the lid on the unease in Ruto’s inner circle.

More on this: Kalonzo, Wetangula meet ahead of Nasa summit on Monday

But Ruto, speaking in Njoro yesterday, played down the emerging fears and told other NASA leaders to join Raila. Ruto said: “I want to tell those who are yet to join us to come so that we can take this country forward.”

The Star yesterday established that Uhuru’s first visit alongside Raila would be in the latter’s Nyanza backyard.

This was the epicentre of the election violence that forced the IEBC to call off the rerun polls in the region’s 24 constituencies on October 26.

Uhuru has kept off huge public gatherings since the controversial rerun, amid legitimacy questions on his presidency, after 61 per cent of Kenyans failed to turn up for the vote.

“The plan is to visit all Raila strongholds as part of the cohesion efforts. They will also launch grand projects as part of the inclusivity that the two leaders have agreed upon,” a source familiar with the plans said.

Also earmarked for visits are Western, Lower Eastern and Coast.

Western and Lower Eastern had a paltry voter turnout of 9 per cent each, while Coast had a turnout of 14 per cent.

“The Luo nation is part and parcel of Kenya. It has not suffered marginalization in isolation; many other regions and communities have similarly faced marginalization of one kind or another. These are some of the historical issues that we must strive to redress as we usher in the new dawn,” Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi told the Star

State House Spokesman Manoah Esipisu could not confirm when Uhuru would be heading to Nyanza, but said the President plans to visit the entire country.

The Luo Council of Elders and their Kikuyu counterparts had earlier met as part of the grand strategy to heal ethnic rifts traced to feuds between Kenyatta Senior and his then Vice President Oginga Odinga in 1964-69, almost half-a-century ago.

Apart from inclusivity, other issues identified to be addressed in the Raila-Uhuru deal are ethnic antagonism and competition, lack of a national ethos, divisive elections, devolution, safety and security, corruption, shared prosperity as well as respect for human and civil rights.

“We have a responsibility as leaders to be able to come together to discuss these issues and to find solutions that will bind our people, that will unify the country, that will give us a lifecycle that is beyond the five [election] years,” Uhuru said on Friday.

More on this: New dawn: Uhuru and Raila resolve to work together to heal Kenya

It has been a weekend of heavy disquiet and high-octane politics within Opposition circles after Raila chose to secretly plan meeting President Uhuru Kenyatta minus his co-principals.

But even inside Jubilee, Ruto was kept in the dark and his allies have sent signals that they are cautious with the political arrangement.

Welcoming the deal on Saturday, National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale, a key Ruto ally, was emphatic that NASA still remains in the Opposition.

“Let us make sure that on matters of national interest, we speak and we read from the same page. But they [NASA] act as the Official Opposition, we [Jubilee] act as the ruling party,” Duale said.

Yesterday, Kindiki was unequivocal that Raila could ruin Ruto’s plans.

“Raila is like a camel that told a house owner to allow it to shelter only its head from the rains, only to ask for his hump to be allowed in too,” Kindiki stated said during a Sunday service at Word of Faith Church in Mukothima, Tharaka.

Raila’s surprise solo move on Friday has set him on collision course with his NASA partners, who have protested the isolationist path the Opposition chief has resorted to.

Given the questions of non-consultation about the deal to the now clear mistrust amongst the Opposition chiefs, today’s meeting is expected to be stormy.

Also read: Raila might scuttle Uhuru succession plan, Kithure Kindiki cautions Jubilee

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