Raila asks feuding Jubilee to put its house in order
Opposition leader Raila Odinga yesterday met some Central Kenya MPs in Mombasa in what is perceived as an indication that he intends to raid the vote-rich region ahead of next year’s polls.
The region is set to be probably the biggest battle ground in the election contest as its leader President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is serving his second and final term, retires next year.
Nominated MP Maina Kamanda, a strong supporter of the former prime minister, told People Daily that Central Kenya leaders are laying ground to aggressively market him in the region.
Deputy President William Ruto has already made considerable inroads in the region as demonstrated in victories by political parties associated with him in Kiambaa and Juja by-elections recently.
Those in the meeting included National Assembly Leader of Majority Amos Kimunya, MPs Peter Mwathi (Limuru), Kanini Kega (Kieni), Jude Njomo (Kiambu Town), Kamanda and Chief Administration Secretary (CAS) Rachel Shebesh.
“Begun the day with a working breakfast meeting in Mombasa with Central Kenya MPs,” tweeted the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) chief.
“Held a consultative meeting with former PM Rt Hon @RailaOdinga and other Mt Kenya leaders on issues of mutual and national interest,” Shebesh also wrote on her twitter handle.
During the meeting, Raila is said to have made it clear that he wants to work with a strong Jubilee especially in Mt Kenya region.
Kimunya said the meeting had been convened to discuss issues of mutual and national interest.
“We in ODM are committed to strengthening our party and we also want to see an organised Jubilee to ensure there is synergy when we are working together.
The manner and the details of how our working relations will be are being dealt with on another level,” Raila is said to have told the MPs.
The meeting took place amidst heightened talk of a possible merger between President Uhuru’s Jubilee party and ODM.
The meeting, held on the sidelines of a National Assembly Liaison Committee meeting being held at a Mombasa hotel, also discussed Jubilee Party performance in the just-concluded Kiambaa by-election with Raila said to have expressed satisfaction with the performance in spite of having lost with a small margin.
The MPs said Raila was categorical that he would prefer to work with a strong Jubilee and thus asked the party officials to start working on a strategy on how to revamp the party that is deeply split between camps allied to Uhuru and Ruto.
Kamanda said Raila called the meeting after he learnt that they were in the same hotel.
By some coincidence, Uhuru is also on a tour of the Coast with sources saying the two Handshake partners were last evening set to hold a meeting with local leaders.
He said Raila wanted to congratulate them for putting up a strong fight in the Kiambaa and Muguga ward by-elections.
“Raila was very impressed by the Jubilee Party performance in the by-elections and wants us to pick from there and strengthen the party ahead of next year’s elections,” said Kamanda.
He disclosed that the issue of marketing Raila in Mt Kenya region was also discussed.
“We agreed to wait for the outcome of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) case in the Court of Appeal and move with it if successful, but if it fails, we will just move in and sell Raila’s candidature to our people,” Kamanda said.
Another MP, who did not want to be named, confirmed that the talks on how to bring Jubilee and ODM together are ongoing. “We agreed in principle that we continue working together with the bigger picture of uniting Kenyans,” the MP said.
“Raila is the one who invited us for a breakfast meeting so that he can get feedback on the Kiambaa by election as well as agree on areas of cooperation between the two parties going into the future,” said the MP.
United Democratic Alliance (UDA) candidate John Njuguna Wanjiku won the recent Kiambaa parliamentary by-election Njuguna overcame stiff competition from Jubilee Party candidate Kariri Njama to emerge victorious with 21,773 votes.Njama garnered 21,263 votes.
Mwathi, who led the Kiambaa Jubilee campaign, said the opposition chief was impressed by the impact made by the Jubilee Party.
“He, however, called on us to put our house in order and work as a team,” said Mwathi who is the chairman of the Administration and National Security Committee.
“Raila was interested to know more about the Kiambaa by-election and he even congratulated us, getting 50 per cent is no mean achievement,” said Kega.
Kega was, however, categorical that the said meeting with Raila was a mere coincidence as all chairs of house committees who sit in the Liaison team had convened in Mombasa for their annual retreat.