Details of Uhuru, Raila two separate meetings
Allies of President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga have been holding a series of behind-the-scenes meetings to thrash out some of the emerging issues that threatened to derail the three-year-old political deal.
The revelations came as it emerged that the fight to control the purse allocated to the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) has become a major stumbling block to plans for a joint campaign for the document by leaders of seven political parties.
While Raila’s ODM is said to be pushing for a joint campaign, the seven leaders are said to be agitating for individual parties to be allowed to convene separate rallies to drum up support for the document. Sources have intimated to People Daily that President Kenyatta and Raila have met at least twice to discuss claims by allies of the ODM leader that a certain clique of civil servants was bent on blocking the latter in his presidential ambitions in 2022.
The first meeting is reported to have been held at State House on Sunday evening while the second one was held yesterday at the same venue. At the Sunday evening meeting, Raila is said to have been driven to State House moments after the President reportedly called him on phone.
Though details of the two meetings remained scanty, sources indicated that both President Kenyatta and Raila had agreed to restrain their foot soldiers from making unnecessary remarks that could ruin the Handshake.
The two leaders have since gagged their allies from making statements related to the issue. Raila is said to have been at State House once again yesterday morning where he met the President for almost an hour.
Other reports indicated that an earlier scheduled meeting at State House with other political leaders yesterday afternoon was canceled after the ODM leader reportedly felt unwell.
“The relationship between the two leaders is intact. There is nothing to worry about. Though I have been in the village, what I know is that the two leaders have been meeting and always in constant touch,” ODM chairman John Mbadi, who is also the Leader of Minority in the National Assembly, said last evening.
Siaya Senator James Orengo, while speaking in Mombasa, confirmed yesterday’s meeting, though he denied claims that it was meant to discuss the apparent falling out over the 2022 succession politics.
He insisted that the meeting had been planned long before his (Orengo’s) weekend outburst about top civil servants sabotaging the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) and had nothing to do with the latest development.
“By the way, today’s meeting at State House is a not a crisis meeting as it was planned sometimes last month when leaders of other political parties were there and agreed to expand that forum to include Governors Hassan Joho (Mombasa) and Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega).
" Orengo appeared to allude to the success achieved in the meetings when he urged ODM supporters to remain calm as he assured that the Handshake was “intact and strong”.
“The Handshake is extremely strong and that is why the leadership of both Houses in the Senate and National Assembly is working in the spirit of bi-partisanship,” Orengo said.
The Siaya lawmaker, who kicked off the storm last Saturday with claims that a cabal of senior civil servants based at Harambee House was allegedly sabotaging the BBI as well as crafting its own 2022 succession line-up, appeared to change tune when he said “the sticky areas” had been thrashed out. He nonetheless maintained that civil servants must “stick to their lane” as he cautioned them against “poking their noses in political matters”.
“Officers in the public service cannot load it over elected leaders. Civil servants must always comply with the Civil Service Code of Conduct as well as respect elected leaders,” said Orengo, who also claimed that his recent sentiments were largely misinterpreted.
But the Senate Minority Leader could not explain why yesterday’s morning meeting between Uhuru and Raila excluded Musalia Mudavadi (ANC), Gideon Moi (Kanu), Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper), Moses Wetang’ula of Ford Kenya and Charity Ngilu (Narc) who had agreed to have a common meeting yesterday to unveil joint countrywide campaigns for BBI.
Reachedor comment, Mudavadi said he had not received any notification for the meeting.
“There has been no meeting today as had been anticipated. I think State matters took precedence, but it is not anything to worry about,” Mudavadi told People Daily.
Neither was his Ford Kenya counterpart, Wetang’ula privy to the Raila, Joho, Oparanya and President Kenyatta meeting.
“I have not received any notification in regard to the meeting. May be you find out from State House,” was all that Wetang’ula could say.
Leaders of the five political parties had been scheduled to hold a joint meeting with their elected Members of Parliament and county assemblies leadership to unveil a schedule of joint tours by political leaders in support of the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill 2020.
The Bill is currently before the joint House committee of Justice and Legal Affairs. Yesterday, Maendeleo Chap Chap party leader Dr Alfred Mutua called on political leaders to respect Raila’s efforts to unite the country.
“It is baffling and for all purposes, an indication of cognitive dissonance that some highly opportunistic leaders who were not party to the Handshake and who have benefited from the Handshake are asking Raila Odinga to forego the Handshake benefits in their favour. Talk of hyenas waiting for the spoils after the hunt,” Mutua said in a statement.
Mutua added that politicians should stop being opportunistic by using their tribes as bargaining chips “whereas their development scorecards are in the negative”.