Leaders air mixed reactions about Uhuru, Raila spat

Amani National Coalition (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi at a past event. He has condemned a public altercation between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Cord leader Raila Odinga during the late William ole Ntimama burial. FILE PHOTO |

What you need to know:

  • The Opposition leader also took a swipe at Jubilee saying it had two hands.
  • President Kenyatta humorously slammed Mr Odinga saying Jubilee was united and in no hurry to relinquish power.

The public spat between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Cord leader Raila Odinga on Wednesday has been sharply criticised by politicians.

Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi said the exchange was “juvenile” and asked the two leaders to exercise restraint.

The exchange between the two took place during the burial of former Cabinet minister William ole Ntimama.

“There was no need for the juvenile exchange at such a solemn occasion. I was ashamed and embarrassed that these are the people Kenyans vote for,” said Mr Mudavadi.

Mr Mudavadi said that leaders ought to conduct themselves with honour.

He took issue with Mr Odinga for claiming that he had spoken to Mr Ntimama after he and other Maasai leaders visited State House.

Mr Odinga had said that during that telephone conversation, Mr Ntimama allegedly assured him that he was still in Cord.

“Why would you want to claim a closeness only the dead can be witness to?” Mr Mudavadi asked.

"It was also horrible to hear the President own up to corruption and chide those who aren’t partaking of it. The 'sisi tunakula nyama na nyinyi mnamwaga mate' wasn’t just in bad taste but shows that the President is actually justifying the 'it is our time to eat' mantra"'.

According to him, the President’s statement was a crude reminder of what Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, the founding President, asked Bildad Kaggia.

“Uhuru was telling Kenyans, ‘I am eating, what are you waiting for? Join the gravy train'. Uhuru’s was an invitation for all of us to start stealing as a national pastime,"' said Mr Mudavadi.

Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula also criticised President Kenyatta for bragging that only those in power were enjoying the national cake.

“It is crude for the President to say that ‘kumeza mate sio kukula nyama’ (to salivate is not to eat meat). He was elected to serve Kenyans, not to eat,"' said Mr Wetang’ula during the party’s Parliamentary Group/National Executive Committee meeting at its headquarters in Nairobi.

However, nominated MP Johnson Sakaja sided with President Kenyatta.

“The President was right to put Raila in his place. It was very disrespectful for Raila to use such a solemn occasion to claim that the late Ntimama called him at night to tell him that he was still in Cord,” said Mr Sakaja.

“The President only reacts when he is provoked and he had to tell Raila to leave Jubilee alone and sort out the mess in his party. He now knows that Jubilee is also prepared for the next elections. Raila must learn to play politics with some degree of decorum,” he said.

LEADERS' REACTIONS

Suna East MP Junet Mohammed criticised President Kenyatta’s reaction.

“It spoke volumes on the traits of the personality of the person standing before us as the President of Kenya. He must know he is everybody’s President and be able to handle himself well in public,” said Mr Mohammed.

He said that the reception accorded to Mr Odinga by the majority of the mourners was a manifestation of the deep rooted support ODM enjoys among the Maasai.

“I know the President was agitated because of the demonstration of massive support which even his friend Edward Lowassa alluded to. The Maasai are very clear where they are and where they are headed,” Mr Mohammed said.

ODM Chairman John Mbadi — who spoke to the Nation from Rome — said President Kenyatta’s remarks that they were eating meat was a manifestation of the looting in government.

“The remarks that they are eating meat when Kenyans are seeing all this corruption and that others are salivating when Kenyans are facing hunger-related challenges, joblessness and lack of proper medicine in our hospitals shows that he hasn’t come to terms with his job description,” Mr Mbadi said.

He said that the President should know that he has a responsibility to provide meat for all Kenyans and “not to eat alone while the rest of Kenyans are salivating”.

Speaking in Nyeri, Devolution Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri, MPs Anthony Mutahi (Laikipia East) and Kanini Kega (Kieni) criticised Mr Odinga for lacking respect for the presidency.

They accused him of hurling insults at the office.

“Raila should tell the truth and admit that he has been using government vehicles and security. He should surrender them instead if he is sincere,” Mr Kiunjuri said.

He thanked the other Cord leaders, Mr Kalonzo Musyoka and Mr Wetang’ula for respecting the presidency.

Mr Kega said Mr Odinga should respect the institution as he would also like to be respected if he becomes the President.

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