Raila now wades into Jubilee wars

Tuesday, April 14th, 2020 22:00 | By
President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga. PHOTO/FILE

The latest crisis in the ruling Jubilee Party took a new dimension on Monday when Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga met several leaders opposed to Deputy President William Ruto.

The meeting at Ildamat, the residence of Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) boss Francis Atwoli in Kajiado County, is said to have discussed, among other issues, effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the country’s economy and the raging war for control of the Jubilee Party.

Also discussed was the state of the country’s health facilities in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2022 succession politics and the closure of businesses and massive job losses as a result of the virus.

Sources, however, intimated to the People Daily that Ruto’s 2022 presidential bid took the centre stage, with majority of those present “resolving to ensure that his desired rise to the country’s top seat is nipped in the bud”.

The meeting is also said to have explored possibilities of forming a formidable alliance to bring together politically like-minded individuals.

And those present at the meeting, which began at around 11am and ended some minutes after 5pm point to an emerging alliance to lead the onslaught against Ruto’s 2022 State House bid. 

They included Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa, Jubilee deputy vice-chairman David Murathe, Siaya Senator James Orengo, Suna East MP Junet Mohamed, Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi and ODM executive officer Oduor Ong’wen.

Before leaving for Kajiado, Raila had met Baringo Senator Gideon Moi at the Karen residence of former Funyula MP Paul Otuoma. The three held a two-hour closed-door meeting that was said to have dwelt on Ruto’s 2022 presidential bid.

The two Easter meetings, whose details remained scanty, have raised eyebrows within the opposing political camps, especially on the emerging Raila-Atwoli-Murathe axis aimed at scuttling the DP’s 2022 presidential ambitions.

Yesterday, Atwoli, while confirming the meeting at his home, said it had tackled various issues affecting the country with some pundits pointing at possible political realignments ahead of 2022.

“Though the meeting ended up with some strategies, it was meant to be a get-together to celebrate Easter.

After all, Raila has always been paying me visits because he is my brother-in-law while Murathe usually comes due to the friendship I had with his late father,” he said. 

The trade unionist, who has never hidden his opposition to the DP’s ambitions, confessed that the 2022 succession politics, in particular Ruto’s political strategy, was discussed at length.

“What I can tell Ruto is that at the moment nobody is going to kick him out of Jubilee. He will leave Jubilee by himself because of his own political goofs.

How does he expect to remain relevant in Jubilee when he is busy fighting the Jubilee party boss, President Uhuru Kenyatta?” Atwoli posed.

 The unionist said it would have been difficult for a gathering of such political heavyweights to have ended without discussing the direction the country is headed and how to drive it in the right path.

“We talked about several issues, among them how the government should cushion Kenyans from effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

We also looked at how the country would recover economically after the pandemic,” Atwoli said by telephone.

“The meeting brought together like-minded people sharing similar tenets and beliefs in the country’s economy, politics, the current coronavirus scourge. Above all, all of us are not Tanga Tanga leaning individuals,” said Atwoli.

Commenting on possible political alliances, Atwoli said all avenues were being explored to ensure “Ruto does not become the next President of Kenya”.

“In the coming days you are going to see a lot happening on the political scene.

New alliances may come up. Who knows what will happen next?” he posed, adding: “Anybody dreaming that Ruto will be the president of this country should forget  those dreams. He is going nowhere.”

Murathe said though the caucus was specifically not meant to discuss Ruto’s presidential bid, it had “digressed into the subject”.

“Atwoli, who is my good friend, had invited us for lunch to celebrate Easter. But there is no way we could have avoided a topic that is apparently on everyone’s lips; Uhuru’s 2022 succession.

But we discussed other issues such as the coronavirus and other challenges facing Kenyans,” he said.

Hinting at a possible political alliance between politicians opposed to Ruto, Murathe said nothing is impossible in politics as long as those involved achieve their desired objective.

“Some people in Jubilee think that we cannot move on without them. And if it is the party that they want, we can leave it to them. People can expect new formations in the future.

We can move on to a bigger house which will be bigger than Jubilee,” he said without elaborating.

Speaking yesterday, the DP allies dismissed efforts by the Raila-Atwoli-Murathe axis to frustrate Ruto’s presidential ambitions.

Led by Kapseret MP Oscah Sudi and his Kimilili counterpart Didmus Barasa, they challenged the President to declare his stand on the matter to save the party from disintegrating.

“We are appealing to the President to come out and pronounce himself on the recent change of five officials that were made in the National Management Committee in order to clear the air on the matter once and for all,” said Barasa.

He accused Murathe and Atwoli of trying to cause a wedge between the President and his deputy with the aim of splitting the party.

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