Uhuru Kenyatta

From left: Gideon Moi, Musalia Mudavadi, Kalonzo Musyoka, President Uhuru Kenyatta, Raila Odinga, Charity Ngilu and Moses Wetang’ula at State House on February 25, 2021.

| File | Nation Media Group

Uhuru and leaders of political parties meet to chart BBI path 

What you need to know:

  • President tells the group to stop squabbling in public as that sends wrong message to voters. 
  • Mutua and Ngilu say the common enemy facing the group is Deputy President William Ruto.

President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday met leaders of the country’s big parties as he moved to end squabbling among politicians who are backing the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), and streamline his emerging coalition that looks certain to face Deputy president William Ruto. 

Mr Kenyatta met the six party leaders — including Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) boss Raila Odinga, Amani National Congress’ (ANC) Musalia Mudavadi, Kanu’s Gideon Moi, Wiper chief Kalonzo Musyoka, Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula and Charity Ngilu of Narc — online  in the morning.

“The meeting urged Kenyans to remain on high alert, to exercise extreme caution and be aware of the Covid-19 reality. It also supported the ongoing national vaccination programme, which is being undertaken in accordance with the guidelines of World Health Organization (WHO) and the Ministry of Health,” read the statement from State House.

While the communiqué  stated that the meeting was called to review the surge in coronavirus infections, politics dominated it.

A source told the Nation that the President asked the leaders to end the wrangles that has characterised parties under the National Super Alliance (Nasa).

Leaders at the meeting also railed at Deputy President William Ruto, saying, he’s dividing the country and disfranchising Kenyans.

By-elections violence

The President warned against violence in by-elections as witnessed in Nakuru, Matungu and Kabuchai on March 4 and asked the leaders to remain united.

Mr Kenyatta, sources told the Nation, also told the leaders that their focus should be on the coming constitutional referendum and not on identifying candidates to contest the presidency next year.  

“We were told that disunity would make us lose sight of the BBI. That is the big picture. The rest will follow,” the source told the Nation.

Mrs Ngilu said she and her colleagues would form a coalition “that will stop Dr Ruto not only in by-elections but also ensure the his anti-BBI message does not affect voting patterns”.

The Kitui governor added that she has been meeting Mr Musyoka and Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua to forge a united front.

“We’ll form a broader alliance even for 2022,” she said. 

After the meeting, Governor Mutua’s party Maendeleo Chap Chap, withdrew its candidate in the Machakos senate race. It had fielded Mr Mutua Katuku.

“Maendeleo Chap Chap extends goodwill to the President, Mr Odinga and other BBI partners by withdrawing its candidate from the Machakos by-election. It is our expectation that our partners will reciprocate our goodwill,” Dr Mutua said. 

Common rival

He told the Nation that leaders who attended the meeting have decided to work together “since we have a common rival”.

“I support the BBI team. Our  our common rival is the United Democratic Alliance that is led by Deputy President William Ruto. We don’t want to give him space to confuse voters,” Dr Mutua said.

“We consulted and agreed the UDA candidate does not get the slimmest of chance in the by-election,” Mrs Ngilu said. 

The President said the public attacks among leaders sends the wrong message to their supporters and may derail the BBI plan.

ODM has been fighting its former partners in the Nasa coalition in recent weeks. 

Mr Odinga’s party accuses ANC, Wiper and Ford Kenya of angling for an endorsement from President Kenyatta.

Two weeks ago, Wiper and ANC told Mr Odinga and ODM to bolt out of the March 9, 2018 handshake between the President and Mr Odinga if not happy.

The Orange party last week demanded other party leaders be kept out of future meetings between the President and Mr Odinga.

ODM demands

The presence of the other leaders at the State House meeting may mean the ODM demand was ignored.

The leaders gathered pledged to cool political temperatures and work together in the forthcoming elections. 

They also raised the issue of crafting a BBI campaign team that is all-inclusive and well-facilitated to deliver the polls while observing the guidelines meant to stop the spread of coronavirus.

The meeting has led to speculation that President Kenyatta may be crafting a coalition to win the referendum and shape the 2022 elections. 

But the headache for the new alliance will be its presidential flag-bearer if the leaders stick together after the referendum.

Mr Odinga’s party has insisted he will be on the ballot, while Mr Mudavadi promised supporters recently that he would fly the ANC flag in the 2022 presidential election. 

“The President has not talked about candidates. He wants us to finish BBI. That is the message we also got from Mr Odinga,”Dr Mutua said. 

Additional reporting by Kitavi Mutua


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