Unite or perish, President Uhuru cautions opposition chiefs

Wednesday, August 18th, 2021 00:00 |
President Uhuru Kenyatta (centre) with Opposition leaders from left: Wycliffe Oparanya, Musalia Mudavadi, Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka, Moses Wetangula and Gideon Moi during a meeting at State House Mombasa a fortnight ago. Photo/File

Unite or be hanged together, that was President Uhuru Kenyatta’s passionate appeal to five Opposition leaders during a three-hour meeting held at State House, Mombasa yesterday.

Uhuru, who had invited the quintet of Raila Odinga, Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi, Kalonzo Musyoka of the Wiper Democratic Movement, Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula and Kanu’s Gideon Moi to the meeting, appeared to suggest that time was running out for them to unite ahead of the General Election.

The meeting came only a day after Raila launched his Azimio La Umoja campaign rallying call in Nakuru town.

The One Kenya Alliance (OKA) brigade comprising Mudavadi, Kalonzo, Wetangula and Gideon was on the other hand in Naivasha for a retreat to receive a report on their strengths and weaknesses going into the 2022 election.

Hardline positions

Speaking after the retreat, the OKA team maintained it would field a presidential candidate from among the four principals; in a move which appeared to lock Raila from their arithmetic. 

“We hereby unequivocally state that OKA will field a presidential candidate in next year’s General Election and the candidate is here,” the OKA leaders declared.

Apparently disturbed by the hardline positions adopted by OKA team on one hand and Raila on the other, Uhuru is said to have shared a confidential intelligence report with the opposition chiefs, depicting that they stood no chance against Deputy President William Ruto if they failed to unite.

“The President sounded disappointed on one hand, and also desperate on the other, even sharing an intelligence report showing Ruto ahead of the pack as it stands now,” said our source.

Uhuru is said to have pleaded with the opposition leaders, without much success, to re-evaluate their positions and compromise if they are to achieve victory, saying he was ready to support a united front in next year’s polls.

According to multiple sources, the President pleaded with the OKA team to “leave their options open” even as they sell their agenda individually or collectively.

Remained defiant

“The options open” refrain was in reference to the issue of teaming up with Raila and the other like-minded politicians who have expressed interest in running for the presidency in next year’s election.

These include National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi, former Trade Minister Mukhisa Kituyi, governors Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega), Ali Hassan Joho (Mombasa), Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni) and Alfred Mutua (Machakos).

Such an alliance, the President predicted, would easily sweep the elections next year, according to our sources.

Uhuru has repeatedly voiced his displeasure with his deputy and openly stated that he would not back his candidature come next year.

Ruto has remained defiant maintaining confidence that he will sweep the presidency with or without a united opposition backed by the President.

The sources at the meeting narrated how the President implored the OKA team to embrace Raila, citing the latest National Intelligence Service poll report and wondering how they intend to win the presidency without Raila.

 “OKA has not taken root nationally. It is still regional based in a few areas of Western because of Mudavadi and Wetang’ula and in Ukambani because of Kalonzo.

You need to go back to the drawing board,” Uhurun is saiod to ahve told them.

According to the source, President Uhuru further told the OKA leaders that chances of them winning against the DP even if the quartet goes to the polls without Raila is slim.

 “You need to sit down and agree on how to work together. You cannot beat Ruto even if you are combined without Raila.

You need to make a decision based on realities on the ground and not hardline stand and emotions,” the source intimated.

Defeating the enemy

A brief bulletin released by the Presidential Strategic Communication Unit  head Kanze Dena-Mararo stated that the meeting centered on the fight against Covid-19 pandemic.

“The leaders agreed to play a leading role in encouraging Kenyans to abide by the Covid-19 containment protocols and interventions including uptake of vaccines.

The leaders applauded the government’s efforts to contain the spread of Covid in the country, and appealed to Kenyans to take personal responsibility to safeguard the health and well-being of all Kenyans,” read the bulletin.

Raila is said to have assured the OKA principals that he was ready to work with them with a view to “defeating the enemy” come August next year.

“Raila said he is ready to work with the OKA principals and face a joint nomination if need be,” the source disclosed.

But even as the leaders failed to agree on the way forward, People Daily has established that Uhuru has set yet another meeting next week after the appellate court renders its judgement on the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) initiative in a landmark ruling tomorrow.

The source further divulged that the President had received intelligence report that the seven-judge bench may uphold the High Court ruling that annulled the BBI process.

Earlier in the day, Raila during a morning talk in one of the local radio stations, said he will accept any ruling of the Court of Appeal, adding that he will now focus on the 2022 General Election which is one year away.

“If we lose out on BBI, we can move to Supreme Court, but because there is no time left, we won’t pursue that line. We want to concentrate on the coming elections,” he said.

Also present at the Mombasa meeting were Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua, and Cabinet Secretaries Fred Matiang’i (Interior) and Mutahi Kagwe (Health) among other senior government officials.

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