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Will Wamalwa fete finally unite Luhya?

Mukalo Kwayera @kwayeram

Though billed as merely an annual ceremony to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the death of former Vice-President Michael Kijana Wamalwa, today’s meeting of leaders from Western region is raising eyebrows.

The leaders have been complaining of being sidelined after President Uhuru Kenyatta and former premier Raila Odinga’s Handshake of March 9.

They are also unhappy with the shooting down of the contraband sugar report which has implications on the economy of their cane-farming voters.

It is against this backdrop of new-found unity among Luhya leaders that they will attend the commemoration that may turn into a mobilisation platform. They will be hosted today by Devolution Cabinet secretary Eugene Wamalwa.

They have repeatedly claimed that the national government has thrown the economic interests of their people at the back burner, a development they insist has been heightened by the secrecy-riddled handshake that gave birth to the Building Bridges initiative.

There have been some increasing undertones that Uhuru and Raila could be clandestinely weaving a grand scheme through which to constitutionally navigate their way to power in 2022. The rumours suggest a plebiscite that would ratify the return to a parliamentary system from which one of them would assume the office of Executive Prime Minister and the other President.

None of the two political supremos’ allies have come out to deny or confirm the speculation. However, two close Raila confidantes, ODM National chairman John Mbadi and Siaya Senator James Orengo have publicly declared that the Nasa leader will be on the ballot in 2022 against Deputy President William Ruto and any other presidential candidate that will pop up in future.

Attempts to reach Jubilee Party vice chairman David Murathe were futile. He did not pick our calls or respond to our text messages.

Wamalwa died on August 23, 2003 after serving only six months as retired President Mwai Kibaki’s VP in the National Rainbow Coalition (Narc) government. His annual commemoration has intermittently been a source of divisions than unity. However, majority of the politicians from the area across the political divide had by last evening pledged to attend.

Amani National Congress (ANC) party leader Musalia Mudavadi, Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka and Westlands MP Tim Wanyonyi separately stated that whereas it was important for the region to collectively address its development agenda, the electorate should not be herded into an inextricable political hole.

Mudavadi said that today’s function at the Wamalwa homestead was purely a traditional rite from which much should not be read. He, however, added that issues in the sugar industry and formation of a public inquest would be addressed.

“As leaders from the region, we have resolved to attend the anniversary in solidarity with our brother Eugene, considering that the late Mike (Michael Wamalwa) was a great and respected leader from our community. Our community shall henceforth not be taken for granted,” he said.

Lusaka ruled out any possibility of political rhetoric and unity bids. “I am going there purely as a leader from the region and a friend of the Wamalwa family. Nothing more than that. I shall not be part of any political posturing,” he said.

Oparanya and Wanyonyi said they would not attend the fete though they fully support the need for the leaders from the region to address the economic welfare of their people.

“I fully support the unity of our people. I support the need for us to address our economic welfare. I stand with my brothers on this,” he said.

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