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Uhuru, Raila chose unity, Lone reveals

Seth Onyango and Mutuku Mwangangi @PeopleDailyKe

Fresh details have emerged about how Nasa leader Raila Odinga was compelled to strike a deal with President Uhuru Kenyatta as his resistance movement appeared headed to a cul-de-sac.

According to Raila’s advisor and spokesman, Salim Lone, the former premier was running out of options after the National Resistance Movement (NRM), an offshoot of Nasa, failed to reap political capital from the government.

He also reveals that the Opposition leader grabbed the opportunity to meet Uhuru after realising through emissaries, that he (President) was equally looking for permanent solutions to the country’s problems of ethnic and political divisions and slowing economy.

Lone’s revelations came as Wiper Party leader Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka revealed he and other Nasa co-principlas—Musalia Mudavadi (ANC) and Moses Wetang’ula—would like to meet the President when he jets back into the country from Cuba.

The three were left out of Friday’s meeting between Uhuru and Raila. At the same time, both Houses of Parliament—National Assembly and Senate— shelved their afternoon agenda to discuss the deal with MPs from both sides affirming support for the dialogue plan.

It was also a day that Catholic bishops, including Archbishop John Cardinal Njue, lauded the move, saying it would heal wounds caused by the mistrust and tribalism that were beginning to catch up with the young generation. (See separate stories) According to Lone, while President Uhuru has achieved the legitimacy, Raila has found a way through which his reform agenda would be realised following the deal.

“Through intermediaries Raila learned that Uhuru was willing to make compromises that would deliver desperately needed political and economic reforms,” he said.

“So Raila decided he would meet Uhuru in an effort to achieve a peaceful settlement to the divisions that have been ripping Kenya apart despite the adoption of the 2010 Constitution.” Raila’s dilemma was further compounded when he, keen on a legacy, realised divisions within the country was becoming more entrenched and could scuttle his political ambition.

“There was one profound problem for the resistance: Its seven months of protests and mobilisation had made little serious headway in achieving its goals, while tensions, especially ethnic tensions, were mounting,” Lone said in a statement to newsrooms yesterday. Raila was also concerned that ethic division in the country could easily spill out of control and fuel violence.

“It was clear to Raila that while the continuation of the strategy of legitimate confrontation had mass support, it could end up in bloodshed,” he added. Lone compared Raila’s embrace with Uhuru to the former’s co-operation with former President Daniel Moi in the late eighties and joining retired President Mwai Kibaki in 2008.

“There is obvious widespread unhappiness in the base over the Uhuru meeting, but it is primarily over how it was done…Some of Kenya’s most progressive strategists were taken aback by this abrupt change, but even they do not dispute that dialogue was always the goal,” he said.

And in Machakos, Kalonzo called for a meeting with the President to hear his side of story in regard to Friday meeting. He further reiterated Nasa co-principals they support any negotiations aimed at developing the country and uniting all Kenyans.

“We believe in constructive dialogue, and if possible we want to have a meeting with the President, the three of us when he return from Cuba,” he said. Kalonzo spoke after a meeting with church and Kamba leaders at the Africa Brotherhood Church in Machakos.

He said the trio’s attempt to meet Uhuru earlier this week was futile after they learnt he had travelled to Cuba. “If he closes the door on us, it’s well too because we cannot force him in any case,” said Kalonzo. The wiper leader, however, dismissed claims that NASA was headed to the dogs, saying it was the wish of all partners that the Opposition remains strong.

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