End of the road? Raila and governors meeting lays bare splits in Azimio

Raila and Orengo in Naivasha

Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition party leader Raila Odinga confers with Siaya Governor James Orengo in Naivasha.

Photo credit: John Njoroge | Nation Media Group

Azimio la Umoja One Kenya leader Raila Odinga’s meeting with governors allied to the coalition in Naivasha exposed divisions in the alliance, with many openly saying that President William Ruto is reaching out to them in an effort to weaken the opposition.

Mr Odinga, his running mate in the August 9 presidential election Martha Karua and Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka came face to face with reality as some county bosses rejected a host of proposals by the coalition to counter the Kenya Kwanza government.

Sources told the Sunday Nation that some governors were opposed to mass action that Mr Odinga threatened to call over the plan to remove four commissioners of the electoral agency.

President Ruto and his allies say the commissioners – Juliana Cherera, Wanderi Kamau, Irene Masit and Justus Nyang’aya – attempted to subvert the will of Kenyans in the August 9 election by rejecting results.

“The principals were told that Kenyans only want stability. Our people are battling an ailing economy, joblessness, hunger and many other ills. This is not the appropriate time for mass action,” a governor who attended the retreat said yesterday.

The Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition principals also reportedly expressed concerns about some of the leaders warming up to President Ruto.

But the governors insisted that they have to work with the government to realise meaningful development.

Some admitted that the Kenya Kwanza administration has been reaching out to them to cut links with the opposition.

They, however, told Mr Odinga, Ms Karua and Mr Musyoka that they would not jump ship.

The Sunday Nation has learnt that it is this “revolt” that made the coalition allow its governors to work with the government on development projects.

“We shall engage the government on the basis of mutual cooperation and consultation for the benefit of our people within the framework of the principles of the two levels of government being distinct and interdependent,” the governors said in a statement read by Kisumu county boss Anyang Nyong’o.

The division also forced the alliance to put on hold a plan to name a shadow cabinet.

“We told off the principals when they argued that Kenyans are dejected and disillusioned and therefore, Azimio should work on modalities to keep Kenya kwanza government in check. We reminded them of the heavy investments we made in the August elections,” a first term governor said.

“We spent a lot of time and resources. There were advisers and experts hired by Azimio who contributed to Ruto’s victory.”

Another governor said many leaders were non-committal on some of the strategies proposed to counter the Kenyan Kwanza dominance.

“We told the principals that we will remain strong in advancing our coalition’s agenda but work with the government, since we need the goodwill of the current administration,” the governor said.

ODM deputy leader and former Kakamega governor Wycliffe Oparanya – who also attended the meeting – downplayed reports division, saying the meeting was for familiarisation.

Mr Oparanya – who just a day before the retreat announced plans to cut ties with Mr Odinga – said the decision to allow the governors to work with the government was informed by the need for counties to benefit from the national development kitty.

“The coalition cannot stop governors from doing what they think is right. They are free to work with the government. We did not discuss many things because this was an acquaintance meeting. Some of the governors are in their first term,” Mr Oparanya said.

Homa Bay Governor Gladys Wanga remained guarded on what transpired in the meeting, only saying governors promised to remain in Azimio One Kenya Coalition even when working with the government.

She said the shadow cabinet matter was discussed but refused to give details.

“Governors will work with the government but we remain in the opposition,” Ms Wanga said.

Mombasa Governor Abdulswamad Nassir said it was unanimously agreed that Azimio One Kenya Coalition governors should work with the government.

Mr Nassir added that the Constitution is clear on the mandate of the national and county governments.