Inside Handshake infighting as ‘Kamukunji Declaration’ aborts

Monday, March 8th, 2021 10:00 |
President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga. Photo/File

Opposition leader Raila Odinga left his supporters guessing yesterday after skipping a rally he was scheduled to attend, amid reports of a rift over his Handshake with President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Impeccable sources told People Daily that Raila had organised the meeting through the ODM Nairobi branch leadership and tasked them to mobilise supporters in what was billed as the “Kamukunji Declaration.”

In the rally, Raila was expected to make a “major announcement” over the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Constitutional Amendment Bill, which is a product of his Handshake with President Kenyatta.

Though the rally, at Kibra’s Kamukunji grounds, proceeded with hundreds of supporters anxiously waiting for the announcement, the ODM leader did not show up, in what some insiders said was a last-minute change of plans.

“Raila received a call yesterday evening (Saturday) after which he decided not to attend the meeting, wherever that call came from, your guess is as good as mine,” said a source close to the ODM leader.

The source added: “The boss is angry that senior servants at Harambee House are crafting their own succession line-up, starving the BBI secretariat of funds and even overruling their bosses.”

Makadara MP George Aladwa, who is the Nairobi ODM chairman, confirmed to People Daily yesterday that he had been asked by Raila to convene a rally at which a “major announcement” was to be made.

“I was asked to organise a big rally by the party leader on matters to do with BBI. I have no authority to organise such a rally without express permission from the party boss. Even if he tells me to arrange another one next Sunday, I will,” said Aladwa.

However, the lawmaker dismissed reports that BBI and the Handshake were injeopardy, adding that the constitutional change process was on course and ODM was fully behind it.

“We don’t have any problem with BBI or the Handshake. What we know now is that the Bill will pass in both Houses of Parliament and after that, it will go to a referendum,” said Aladwa.

Contacted, Raila’s spokesman Dennis Onyango dismissed the meeting, saying his boss was resting after his five-day tour of the Coast and had not planned any rally.

“Raila was taking a rest after the tour. As far as I am concerned Raila had not planned any rally. Ask the source where he got the information,” said Onyango.

ODM Director of Communications Philip Etale, who had invited the media to cover the rally, could not explain why Raila skipped the rally at Kibera’s Kamukunji area.

“Raila was scheduled to attend. He cancelled at the last minute because other things came up,” Etale said.

Confusion about the rally came a day after Siaya Senator James Orengo claimed that a “cabal” within President Kenyatta’s administration was scheming on who will succeed him. Orengo, a close ally of Raila, threatened to expose the officials whom he accused of fighting for their personal and selfish interests, adding that the civil servants had already declared who will rule the country after President Kenyatta.

“Whenever civil servants who are part of a cabal try to chart the destiny of a nation for their own personal interests, there can never be any peace. We are calling on some officials at Harambee House and the police to desist from those schemes and obey political and constitutional institutions,” said Orengo.

Orengo, who is the Senate Minority leader, alleged that the same officials had taken over management of the BBI.“They have led to the closure of the BBI [conversation] so that they can run the secretariat from government offices,” said Orengo.

However, People Daily has also established that ODM top brass has been having suspicions that Interior Principal Secretary Dr Karanja Kibicho has been coining a new alliance bringing together Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi, Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper), Moses Wetangula (Ford Kenya), Gideon Moi (Kanu) and National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi.

Muturi was on Saturday crowned as Mt Kenya East political kingpin in what pundits say is positioning himself for the 2022 succession matrix.

On Saturday National Assembly Minority Whip Junet Mohammed asked President Kenyatta to bar Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho from BBI activities while Orengo accused “a gang at Harambee House,” of frustrating the Handshake by crafting an alternative power succession strategy.

Junet warned that the BBI train is at risk of crumbling ahead of the referendum.

Junet co-chairs the BBI- secretariat alongside former Dagoretti North lawmaker Denis Waweru. But Waweru yesterday downplayed Junet’s claims saying all was well.

“ I am not aware of anything, he (Kibicho) is a very committed member of our team. If there are any concerns we are going to discuss and come up with a solution and a way forward,’ he said. It is understood that the ODM suspicion was “confirmed” during last week’s Matungu by-election in which the Orange party claims victory was “snatched away by the Harambe House cabal working closely with some politicians”.

A source, who spoke in confidence, said a section of Raila allies feels there is a “mischievous scheme” to weaken Raila’s influence in Western, Coast and parts of Nairobi which have been his political bedrock over the years.

“With a weakened Raila and a perception that he is losing foot soldiers, it would be easy to convince him to back a candidate in the Mudavadi, Kalonzo, Gideon and Wetangula’s axis,” the source said.

He added: “It is the same people who facilitated the provincial administration to cause violence and mayhem, and ensure Mudavadi’s man wins so that he is depicted to have taken control of the Western region which has religiously been voting for the ODM leader.”

Shinyalu MP Justus Kizito claimed that the ANC candidate Peter Nabulindo won with the support of the “deep state” that deployed security apparatus to act in his favour.

According to Kizito, Mudavadi, Wetang’ula, Moi and Kalonzo had appealed for “State help” to win the by-elections in Matungu, Kabuchai and the yet to be conducted one in Machakos.

“In the Matungu by-election, we as ODM were on our own but we won by a landslide. Mudavadi should not cheat himself that he won the election, it was rigging and he should not lie that he is strong in Western Kenya,” said Kizito who is also ODM’s National Executive Council (NEC) member.

Yesterday, Mudavadi did not respond to our texts or calls sent to his known contacts. During his visit to coastal counties last week, Raila was forced to cancel some of his stop-overs and scheduled meetings for fear of repulsion from what his insiders claim was a well-orchestrated scheme to portray him as a man losing ground.

The intrigues are coming at a time the leaders are supposed to show unity ahead of the BBI popularisation campaign.

Tomorrow, the President, Raila and the five leaders are supposed to meet MPs and MCAs in a consultative forum to drum up support for the BBI.

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