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January 21, 2019

Uhuru-Raila unity team takes shape

President Uhuru Kenyatta (L) greets Raila Odinga of the National Super Alliance (NASA) coalition after addressing a news conference at the Harambee House office in Nairobi, Kenya March 9, 2018. / FILE
President Uhuru Kenyatta (L) greets Raila Odinga of the National Super Alliance (NASA) coalition after addressing a news conference at the Harambee House office in Nairobi, Kenya March 9, 2018. / FILE

The team to steer President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga’s unity deal is all but in place, the Star can reveal.

The two leaders are also reportedly planning to expand the two-man dialogue committee they appointed to spearhead their handshake deal to 12 members.

This comes as the country waits with bated breath the details of the unity plan, more than a month since the handshake on March 9. Sources privy to the behind-the-scenes goings-on say Uhuru and Raila have largely completed stitching together their closely guarded plan that is likely to be unveiled next week.

Impeccable sources told the Star in confidence that both Raila and Uhuru had settled on their nominees for the steering committee.

Raila has picked NASA executive director Norman Magaya, his chief of staff and former Permanent Secretary Andrew Mondo,  former Mbalambala MP and now EALA lawmaker Abdikadir Aden and ODM deputy treasurer Ogla Karani.

The nominees are all drawn from ODM, a clear indication that the NASA coalition is not in the picture. Yesterday, Raila’s point man Paul Mwangi was cagey when contacted by the Star. “There will be developments soon,” he said, declining further comment.

Read more: New dawn: Uhuru and Raila resolve to work together to heal Kenya

Similarly, Uhuru is said to have settled on his close allies to join the team that will form the secretariat. Sources say those being enlisted are Jubilee vice chairman David Murathe, secretary general Raphael Tuju, his chief agent for the presidential election Davis Chirchir and former Meru county Woman Representative Florence Kajuju.

If the team is increased, it could include a former MP from Rift Valley and another politician from the Coast.

State House Spokesman Manoah Esipisu was guarded on the names and if a date had been agreed for the roll-out of the joint programme. “There would be an announcement when the team mandated to do that job is ready,” Manoah told the Star yesterday.

However, ODM chairman and National Assembly Minority leader John Mbadi told the Star that a major announcement was in the offing.
“I am even from a meeting with Raila right now and, trust me, an announcement will be made in a few days,” Mbadi said.

It is not clear when the programme will roll out as the country is kept in the dark about the plan by the two leaders.

Yesterday, the Catholic Church urged a comprehensive programme to unify the country and address electoral issues, the nature of the presidency and the role of the Opposition.

A church statement said: “We call for an all-inclusive round table conference that will iron out all the differences that have been separating Kenyans. All stakeholders should be involved. The review of the Constitution in the light of contentious issues that emerged during the recent elections, and other shortcomings that have been noted are among matters that need urgent attention."

The church joins a section of civil society that has been demanding inclusion in the team to resolve some of the country’s long-standing challenges. Activists met Raila at his Capitol Hill office on Thursday last week and "demanded that composition of the team must adhere to the two-thirds gender rule,” a highly placed source intimated to the Star.

But Mwangi and Ambassador Martin Kimani have remained tight-lipped about their operations a month on, despite calls for forward movement forward and disclosure of the details of the deal.

“It's almost one month since you issued the statement and neither has the programme been rolled out nor launched,” Busia Senator Amos Wako said last week. The delay has created a vacuum and ushered in premature 2022 campaigns, he said.

Similar sentiments were expressed by outgoing US Ambassador Robert Godec who called for speedy implementation of the dialogue process.

In the deal called  'Building Bridges to a New Kenyan Nation,' Uhuru and Raila pledged to confront ethnic antagonism and competition, lack of national ethos, inclusivity, devolution, safety and security, divisive elections, corruption, shared prosperity and respect for human rights.

On Friday, Raila left the country to attend the burial of South Africa’s anti-apartheid icon Winnie Mandela on Saturday. He is expected to represent the President.


The list is likely to trigger a fresh storm from politicians, especially NASA affiliate parties that have been demanding 'all-inclusive dialogue'.

In the communique after the surprise handshake at the footsteps of Harambee House, Uhuru and Raila promised to name more advisers to assist in implementing the nine-point agenda.

“The programme shall establish an office and retain a retinue of advisers to assist in this implementation,” the joint statement said, promising an official launch.

ANC boss Musalia Mudavadi, Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka and Ford Kenya's Moses Wetang'ula expressed misgivings about the deal, terming it selfish and self-serving.

Raila's allies, on the other hand, embraced it but have been demanding that it be honored in deeds, especially after Miguna Miguna was ejected from the country despite Raila's failed intervention. Jubilee stalwarts have also been suspicious of the deal, cautioning Uhuru to be careful.

“You need to talk to Kenyans, explaining why you did this [deal] and what is the objective of it all. And this must not be about power-sharing,” human rights activist Maina Kiai wrote in a confidential letter to Raila.

Raila’s moves have triggered speculation that he is repositioning himself for a fifth stab at the presidency in 2022. He has sent political strategists back to the drawing board, amid speculation that the pact aims to derail Deputy President William Ruto’s ascendancy.   

on Thursday, Raila visited retired President Daniel Moi. He was received by high-profile Kanu politicians led by party chairman and Moi's youngest son, Gideon Moi, and secretary general Nick Salat.

On hand to welcome him at the Kabarak airstrip was Tiaty MP William Kamket of Kanu and Jubilee’s Moiben MP Silas Tiren.

Over the last month, Raila has been hosting unlikely visitors, including former Kiambu Governor William Kabogo, a known critic of DP Ruto, who is said to be shopping for a new political tent.

The ODM leader has also been courted by members of the First Family, including Uhuru's influential uncle George Muhoho and niece Anne Nyokabi.

More on this: Raila set to become AU Special Envoy in handshake deal


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