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Moi, Raila handshake kicks up storm

Seth Onyango @SethManex

A meeting between retired President Moi and Opposition chief Raila Odinga yesterday raised eyebrows with political antenna being lifted high to find any link to Raila’s profile-building ahead of the 2022 election.

Raila visited Moi at his home in Kabarak, Nakuru county, where they are said to have held a two-hour closed-door talks that were attended by Moi’s son, Baringo Senator Gideon Moi and few close politicians from the Kanu ilk.

The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader left Nairobi a few minutes before midday accompanied by Mvita MP Abdulswamwad Nassir and Vihiga Senator George Khaniri who also sat in the meeting.

On arrival at the Kabarak airstrip, Raila and his delegation were received by Tiaty MP William Kamket and Moiben MP Silas Tiren. At the Moi home, he was welcomed by Gideon and former MP Nick Salat who ushered him to a meeting with the retired president.

Although details of their meeting remained scanty, and the meeting was ostensibly to wish Moi well after his recent hospitalisation, the political space especially on Twitter was set ablaze with pundits already weighing the political implication of the rare encounter between the two leaders.

It was noted variously that the last time Moi and Raila exhibited genuine camaraderie was in 1998 when the latter melted his then tractor-branded National Democratic Party into Kanu and sojourned in government for four years with his camp getting some Cabinet slots and several government department positions.

The meeting comes just weeks after the mending of frosty relations between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his long-time political nemesis Raila, crowned with the now much-discussed handshake.

The meeting between Moi and Raila is seen as part of a build-up by the latter for his political future, coming after a series of meetings he has held with leaders from the Jubilee party.

Last month, the former Premier met the vocal Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria followed by his Tuesday meeting with former Kiambu Governor William Kabogo.

His clout of involvement with the administration has also been gaining respect. In what shows his increasing role in government affairs, Raila is set to give a keynote address at the fifth annual devolution conference to take place in Kakamega county later this month.

Two weeks ago the Nasa leader was to be briefed by Devolution Cabinet secretary Eugene Wamalwa and Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru on the progress of the conference, but the function was put off to a later date. Raila will address the meeting on good governance, one day after Uhuru opens the event.

ODM secretary general Edwin Sifuna confirmed Raila will address the conference on the second day where he will talk about good governance and transparency.

But it was yesterday’s meeting between Raila and Moi that has set tongues wagging over what it portends for the country’s political landscape.

It was not lost on analysts that Gideon who has presidential ambitions pegged on the 2022 election may have been seeking to glow more in the limelight than his father, with the unspoken message that Raila is seeking allies and he could be available.

Raila’s spokesperson Dennis Onyango was, however, quick to dismiss political speculations, asserting that the former premier was checking on Moi following his recent hospitalisation in Israel. “The visit followed the recent hospitalisation of the former president in Israel.

Odinga was visiting to wish the former president well,” Onyango wrote in a statement to newsrooms. Additionally, Onyango said the two leaders discussed the state of the Kenyan nation.

But last evening, Majority Leader in the National Assembly Aden Duale watered down the visit, remarking that those visiting Mzee Moi should not expect to use that as a campaign tool in 2022. “Congratulations but this should not excite you. Your visit is just an extension of the handshake.

Mr Speaker, today the handshake was in Kabarak, it has moved from Harambee House,” Duale said in the Chamber. Duale went on to state: “Those visiting Mzee Moi are allowed to go and tell him pole (sorry) because he served us for 24 years.

But those who intend to be in the 2022 race, you don’t need such visits, face us who are on the other side. The outspoken Garissa Township MP claimed the March 9 handshake between Raila and Uhuru will have very little impact on the 2022 presidential election.

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