I’m not mad to settle on Raila and bypass my deputy – Uhuru
Kenyans will be safe in the hands of Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga after the August 9 General Election, President Uhuru Kenyatta said yesterday, hinting at a possibility of convincing party chiefs Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang’ula to change their hearts and support the former premier.
Sources at yesterday’s one-and-a-halfhour State House meeting between the President and leaders from Western region, told People Daily that Uhuru was emphatic about the choice of Raila as his preferred successor even as he felt disappointed with the Sunday move by ANC party leader, Mudavadi, and his Ford Kenya counterpart, Wetang’ula, to team up with Deputy President William Ruto ahead of elections.
The source, who sought anonymity because he is not authorised to discuss details of the meeting with the press, said the President promised to reach out to the Western supremos and persuade them to rescind their decision and support Raila’s presidential bid.
Gone astray “Ni kupotea wamepotea. Wangalifaidika sana kama wangalibaki na Raila. Wakenya watakuwa kwa mikono mizuri chini ya uongozi wa Raila kuliko hao watu wengine wanaowakimbilia (they have gone astray because they would have benefitted more if they agreed to work with Raila. Kenyans will be safer under a Raila presidency than the other people they are rushing to),” Uhuru told the delegation.
The source said that the President was emphatic over his support for a Raila presidency than before, warning the leaders, mainly Members of Parliament, that those dismissing his preference for the ODM leader would come to regret when it would be too late.
“I am not a mad man to wake up one day and settle on a man whom I have hated almost all my life and bypass my own deputy. Do you people think I arrived at the decision without soul-searching? I have my reasons that I will soon tell Kenyans, but at an appropriate time,” the President is reported to have told the delegation.
Uhuru is understood to have told the delegation that he would not tire from trying to persuade Mudavadi and Wetang’ula to change their decision to support the DP.
“The President was categorical that Kenyans will be safe in the hands of Raila than any other presidential candidate. He told us that although he was unhappy with the move the two took, he will reach out to them,” said the source.
As if in response to claims by a section of leaders from Mt Kenya region that the President had not given them direction on his succession, the Head of State reportedly informed the delegation that he would embark on “a nationwide campaign for Raila at the right time”.
Countywide tour “Wacha waendelee kukimbia, lakini wajue ya kwamba kutangulia sio kufika. Wakati utafika munione nikiwa kwa kiwanja nikisaidia ndugu yangu Raila (Even though they kicked off campaigns prematurely, let them know that that does not guarantee them victory. Very soon you will see me criss-crossing the country campaigning for my brother Raila,” the President said.
Yesterday’s meeting came barely two days after Mudavadi and Wetangula ditched the One Kenya Alliance (OKA) and joined hands with Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA).
The move prompted two other OKA principals, Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka and Kanu chairman Gideon Moi to walk out of Mudavadi’s presidential campaign launch ceremony at the Bomas of Kenya on Sunday.
In a hard-hitting statement on President Kenyatta’s administration at the ceremony, Mudavadi said Kenyans had lived on a diet of political deceit and betrayal, adding that those in leadership had failed to place any useful premium on the words that leave their lips.
Mudavadi was categorical that he would not partner with Azimio La Umoja movement that is being championed by his political friend-turned-enemy Orange party leader Raila.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the ANC stand, which I am privileged to pronounce, is that the specter called Azimio is not an option when it comes to partnerships. This is not an Azimio or about unity,” said Mudavadi.
“Some shadowy elements are busy attempting to coerce, intimidate and impose hand-picked leaders. This is a perilous road that can only lead to civil strife. The stability of this country is derived from the legitimacy bestowed through popular elections,” said Mudavadi.
But during yesterday’s meeting, President Kenyatta who reportedly disclosed that he would soon embark on a countrywide tour to campaign for Raila, wondered how Ruto who vigorously opposed the 2010 Constitution had suddenly transformed into its strongest defender.
The President disclosed that one of his first stop-overs would be the Western region where he would inspect ongoing development projects and launch new ones.
The Head of State is said to have promised the leaders that he would ensure the revival of projects such as Mumias and Nzoia sugar factories before expiry of his term.
“I think there are two roads that he promised to ensure the tarmacking would commence before he leaves office,” said Budalang’i MP Raphael Wanjala who was part of the delegation.
The ODM lawmaker who, however, declined to divulge more details, disclosed that the President urged leaders from the region to consolidate their more than two million voters to elect Raila.
“The only thing I can tell you is that today he was more direct about his support for Raila. He told us that Kenyans would benefit more under Raila than Ruto. He was categorical that he would soon come out of State House to campaign for him at the opportune time,” Wanjala told People Daily.
He also took issue with Ruto and his allies for scuttling the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) that was meant to ensure inclusivity in government.
In what could be interpreted as a determination to revive BBI in future, President Kenyatta assured the delegation that a Raila presidency would “ensure inclusivity of all Kenyans in the government”.
Countrywide tour In a statement sent to newsrooms after the meeting, State House spokesperson Kanze Dena acknowledged that President Kenyatta held a meeting with a cross-section of Western Kenya leaders who paid him a courtesy call at State House, Nairobi.
“The Head of State assured the leaders, drawn from the five Western Kenya counties of Kakamega, Bungoma, Busia, Trans-Nzoia and Vihiga, of the government’s commitment to ensure all ongoing development projects in the populous region are completed as scheduled,” said the statement.
On their part, the leaders thanked the President for the various development projects which they said had transformed the lives and wellbeing of the people of Western Kenya.
Also present were Luhya Council of Elders led by their chairman Patrick Wangamati, the father to Bungoma County boss Wycliff and a delegation from the Tachoni community.
After a sumptuous meal at State House, the Western leaders told President Kenyatta about the ailing sugar sector and the President promised to address the sugar mills issue.