Opposition leader Raila Odinga has stepped up efforts to bridge ethnic animosity between the Gema and Luo communities following his handshake with President Uhuru Kenyatta.
In what could spark another political controversy with leaders allied to deputy president William Ruto, Gema will spearhead a grassroots drive to rally support for Raila’s unity deal with Uhuru.
Details from the meeting indicate that both Gema and the Luo Council of Elders will work together to foster ethnic harmony between the communities.
It is, however, not clear when the campaign will commence although those privy to the Friday meeting said it will be in a few weeks.
Raila’s meeting with Gema came just a day after he met a 14-member team name to steer his unity agenda with the President.
Speaking on the sidelines of a Gema meeting with the former premier, chairperson of Gema Nairobi Wilfred Kamau insisted the drive was not about 2022 politics.
“The golden handshake between the two leaders needs to trickle to the grassroots level…we have had many handshakes but most have failed Kenyans,” he noted.
He further said divisive political competition in the country had pitted the Gema and Luo communities thus the drive will focus on mending the divide.
Although good intentioned, the meeting between Raila and Gema – previously one of his fiercest critics – could send signals to Ruto’s camp that he (Raila) is endearing himself to the vote-rich Central region.
It follows a series of meeting the former premier has held with former Heads of State Daniel Moi and Mwai Kibaki fuelling speculation his handshake with Uhuru had political implications for 2022.
Raila, has, however, dismissed claims that the truce he made with the President was anchored on succession politics, asserting that it is meant to unite the country.
David Ndii, ODM strategist said the meeting with Gema would pacify the country.
Top on the agenda is to ensure trust between the two communities to ensure future elections are not divisive.
‘We want to move away from the politics of ethnic mobilisation into the politics of unity where people are not obsessed with state capture,” he said.
Also present at the meeting at the meeting was Ruaraka MP Otieno Kajwang who also exuded confidence the handshakes of the two leaders would heal political and ethnic wounds in the country.
Recently, Raila briefed the Luo Council of Elders about the handshake.