Unity test as Raila invites OKA team to Kasarani event
Opposition chief Raila Odinga’s Friday meeting in Nairobi at which he is expected to announce his 2022 presidential bid, will be a major unity test for One Kenya Alliance (OKA) leaders who have been invited to the event.
Sources close to the organisers revealed that Raila’s ODM party had invited OKA principals Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi, his Wiper counterpart Kalonzo Musyoka, Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula and Kanu chair Gideon Moi.
“We have invited all OKA leaders to grace the event. We have also invited leaders of other friendly political parties outside OKA,” said an ODM insider who requested anonymity.
He, however, was categorical that Deputy President William Ruto was unwelcome.
“We consider him an opponent so we cannot invite him,” said the source.
Last evening, it was not clear whether OKA leaders would attend the event at which Raila is likely to launch his State House bid, amid pressure for them to back him.
Raila attended Kalonzo and Gideon’s presidential launches, a move that has triggered discomfort in the Mudavadi-Wetang’ula camps.
Matters have been aggravated by Raila’s latest dalliance with Ford Kenya rebel MPs Wafula Wamunyinyi and Eseli Simiyu; who at the weekend declared they had quit the lion party.
Wetang’ula has previously accused a senior opposition leader of assisting Wamunyinyi and Eseli to stage a coup in Ford Kenya.
While Kanu secretary general Nick Salat confirmed he will attend Friday’s meeting, Wetang’ula was non-committal. “I cannot attend an event which I have not been invited to. I can only comment once I get the invitation,” he told People Daily.
Salat said Kanu had received the invitation and they will attend the event.
“Raila came to our function, so it is only in order we attend his. We would be there to ensure the event is successful,” Salat said, adding he expected other OKA principals to be present.
A total of 7,250 ODM delegates are expected to attend the highly anticipated Azimio la Umoja meeting at Kasarani Stadium, Nairobi.
They will be joined by a host of local and international dignitaries including leaders of political parties and foreign envoys, People Daily established.
The delegates will include five representatives from each of the country’s 1,450 wards.
A pointer that Raila will be declaring his State House bid is a media invite to the event which he describes as “Kenya’s big wedding” was signed by his “presidential secretariat”.
Speaking while receiving defectors from the Ruto-led United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party from Kajiado East, Raila reiterated that he had heard the challenges facing Kenyans and the numerous calls for him to vie, and he would announce his decision on Friday.
“We entered into a ‘Handshake’ with President Uhuru Kenyatta. That ‘Handshake’ has seen peace and development in this country. Its hallmark will be on Friday where I will give the verdict. I ask all Kenyans who can make it to Kasarani to come in their numbers,” said Raila.
He went on: “This will be a big wedding for Kenya. I expect you to come.”
Raila said five delegates had been picked from all wards across the country to represent the rest.
It was not, however, clear whether members of the public would be allowed into the main auditorium where the ceremony will be held.
Raila’s key allies yesterday indicated they had placed the hope of his ascendancy to the presidency on the outcome of Friday’s event.
Sources at the Raila Odinga secretariat yesterday revealed that invitation letters had been dispatched to some of Raila’s international associates, who have been scheduled to speak during the meeting.
They, however, could not confirm or deny the attendance of President Kenyatta; who enjoys a blossoming relationship with Raila and last week endorsed his candidature for the top seat in next year’s presidential election.
“That is not within the Secretariat’s mandate, only the State House can comment on that,” said a source.
Also invited are the United Kingdom, American, Germany and Indian envoys to Nairobi as well as the dean of African Diplomats.
One of Raila’s long-standing friends, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, is expected at the Karasani event.
Raila who has been crisscrossing the country with his clarion call of Azimio la Umoja, is expected to stage one of the biggest political jamborees in the capital.
Today, MPs allied to the Azimio la Umoja political grouping will tour Kasarani Stadium to assess preparations ahead of the event.
Separately, the secretariat will hold a meeting with security chiefs in Nairobi to map out security arrangements for the event.
On Thursday, the secretariat will hold a “dry run” to ensure all systems are in place ahead of Raila’s big day.
Kajiado Governor Joseph ole Lenku yesterday claimed OKA will form a grand coalition government with Jubilee and Raila’s Orange party after the 2022 elections.
Lenku said having served as Minister for Internal Affairs in the past, he was privy to intelligence reports, that the two coalitions would unite and form the next government.
“I have classified information that the next government will be formed by the Oka and Handshake coalition under the Azimio la Umoja agenda. The Kasarani Azimio la Umoja meeting scheduled for 10th is just the beginning of a stronger movement that is guaranteed to form the next government,” he said at Lele village, Kajiado Central during a thanksgiving ceremony for Ilmirishi age group of the Maasai.
The Maa spokesperson urged residents to ignore UDA’s “unrealistic promises” and focus on OKA and what Uhuru and Raila were preparing for the country.
“I urge you to support the winning team lest you be left out of government in 2022. Please do not betray our community by ignoring a guaranteed 2022 government because the consequences are dire,” he said.
He added: “ You will miss out on development and other opportunities if you do not align yourself with the Azimio la Umoja team, which will comprise Oka and Handshake political pacts.”
—Additional report by Jeremiah Kiplang’at and Hillary Mageka