Raila defends handshake with Uhuru amid mistrust

Nasa leader says he is prepared to sacrifice anything for peace, urges Kenyans to unite in resolving the problems ailing the country

George Kebaso and DPPS

Opposition leader Raila Odinga has declared he is prepared to go to any length for the sake of peace, prosperity and good governance.

Raila, at the same time, sought to allay fears by both Jubilee and Nasa supporters that he could not be trusted with the recent unity deal with President Uhuru Kenyatta. 

The assurance comes amid apprehensions expressed by some Jubilee legislators over his intentions and as Nasa co-principals cried foul over the deal. Raila urged Kenyans to unite as a prerequisite to solving problems ailing the country.

Speaking at the Christ Is The Answer Ministries (CITAM), Ongata Rongai branch, the former PM stated he will not abandon the dream project of uniting Kenyans, which found symbolism in his      March 9 meeting with President Uhuru.

“What is currently on every Kenyan’s lips is my handshake with President Uhuru. People are constantly asking what is in the handshake? Others are saying, Raila has come to divide Jubilee; Raila has joined Jubilee and left us alone. This Raila is planning to divide the country…and so on. For me I conclude that they are entitled to their opinion,” said Raila.

He said it is time for Kenyans to examine themselves and resolve things that had gone wrong:   “To build a new Kenya, we have to start asking ourselves where the rain started beating us. And to do this, we have to hit the nail on the head. The new found working relationship between Uhuru and I is not about Nasa or Jubilee, but about Kenya,” he added.

“If Nelson Mandela and President De Klerk shook hands to end apartheid; if Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat and Israel strongman, Yitshack Rabin shook hands, and US Donald Trump contemplates meeting Kim Jong un, why not Raila and Uhuru?”

Raila spoke even as some Jubilee MPs told him to come clear on his intentions concerning the unity pact instead of sending mixed signals. The leaders who included three governors and a host of MPs said Raila was asking his ODM MPs not to associate with Jubilee leaders despite the unity deal with President Uhuru.   

And speaking at the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA), Runda in Nairobi yesterday, also attended by Deputy President William Ruto, the leaders said unity talks must involve all.  All the leaders present said they would back Ruto for the country’s top seat in 2022 when President Uhuru Kenyatta’s second term comes to an end. “The unity pact is indeed good for the country. But Odinga should be sincere on this issue.

“He should tell us if it is about unity of all Kenyans or something else,” said Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichungwa, adding;  “If the unity is about all Kenyans, then he should allow the co-principals in Nasa to join him in the unity pact for the sake of a united nation that everybody will be proud of.” 

Nairobi Governor Sonko emphasised that nobody will divide President Uhuru and the Deputy President because they have been together since 2013, saying the President will back his deputy come 2022. “Ever since the two struck a political pact in 2013, the Deputy President has been a priceless asset in President Uhuru’s political career thanks to his unmatched mobilisation skills. I am sure the president will back Ruto come 2022,” said Sonko.

Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu said the unity pact involving Raila without other Nasa   leaders was suspect, because  “Odinga is sly”.

“We don’t trust the former Prime Minister. We have to be careful with him (Odinga). In fact, I suggest your Excellency that if you go somewhere and you are told to pray, never close your eyes. We should be extremely alert ahead of 2022,” said Waititu.   

Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria said the Government should consider giving jobs to Nasa leaders including Raila, Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetang’ula so that they can feel appreciated.   The leaders said the unity pact should not derail development plans of Jubilee and the succession politics ahead of the 2022 General Election.


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