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, Raila call crisis meeting to save ‘Handshake’

President Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga have called a crisis meeting at State House, Nairobi, today in a frantic move to save the ‘Handshake’ on the third anniversary of the political deal between the two leaders.

The meeting comes in a day of frenzied activities that were sparked by comments from ODM Director of Elections Junet Mohamed on Saturday when he accused senior officials in government led by Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho of trying to undermine the Building Bridges Initiative and sabotaging Mr Odinga.

Meeting

Consequently, President Kenyatta will today (Tuesday) meet with Mr Odinga and other party leaders. Those invited to the meeting include ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi, Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper), Gideon Moi (Kanu), Moses Wetang’ula (Ford Kenya), Alfred Mutua (Maendeleo Chap Chap), Kivutha Kibwana (Muungano Party), Charity Ngilu (Narc) and governors led by Kakamega’s Wycliffe Oparanya and Mombasa’s Hassan Joho.

The meeting is slated for this afternoon. Thereafter, State House will set a date and meet the House leadership on both sides, which will be followed by talks with ‘like-minded lawmakers’.

“The meeting of the party leaders is on course as earlier planned,” said Mr Mohamed.

Uhuru and Raila handshake

President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga’s handshake in 2018, after the disputed 2017 presidential vote, has scrambled the political landscape and blurred the line between the ruling party and opposition.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

However, some party leaders who spoke to Nation in confidence last night said they had not received any invitations for the meeting.

State House spokesperson Kanze Dena promised to release a statement but had not done so by the time of going to press.

The talks have taken a different path from what President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga promised on the February 25 meeting at State House in a statement read by Senator Moi.

“We shall hold a joint consultative meeting on March 9, 2021, involving Members of Parliament and counties leadership,” Senator Moi said in a statement after a meeting of seven pro-BBI party leaders on February 25 at State House, Nairobi.

The Handshake deal was signed on March 9, 2018.

Mr Odinga is facing a twin assault from Nasa-affiliated parties and his ODM outfit, with rising pressure for him to stand aside and endorse other leaders for the presidency in 2022.

2022 succession plan

Just two days after Mr Mohamed, an insider in the Odinga camp and the BBI secretariat co-chairman, accused the powerful of hijacking the BBI secretariat and trying to edge out Mr Odinga from the 2022 succession plan, Wiper and ANC were yesterday tearing into ODM’s accusations.

Mr Mudavadi’s ANC yesterday went short of declaring the former vice president as President Kenyatta’s favourite, even as they dismissed ODM’s claims of lack of electoral integrity in the Matungu mini-poll.

“ANC has categorically stated that endorsements are a legit part of political mobilisation. ODM should openly declare that it covets the endorsement that Mudavadi presumably beat them to. Denials to the contrary is pure deceit,” ANC party chairman Kevin Lunani said in a telling statement short of boasting of an upcoming Uhuru endorsement, terming ODM’s protests over Mr Mudavadi’s place in the Uhuru succession as a “ridiculous prank” .

As if in a co-ordinated messaging, Mr Musyoka’s Wiper has warned Mr Odinga and ODM to bolt out of the Handshake if dissatisfied, in the latest escalation of the war of words within the BBI team, further cementing President Kenyatta’s dilemma as far as his 2022 succession is concerned.

“If I invite you to my house, you should not come and start dictating to me how I should cook my food, how I should do my things…that will not be possible. If ODM is not satisfied with the terms and conditions of the Handshake, let them quit,” Kitui Senator Enoch Wambua, a close ally of Mr Musyoka, said on Sunday.

Both parties have joined Kanu in crafting the One Kenya alliance. The alliance, it seems, has pegged its chances on an anti-Raila sentiment both in their regions and in Mt Kenya, keen to always project their support for President Kenyatta, and paint the ODM leader as a spoiler whose time to support another person for the top job has come.

But Mr Odinga’s ODM is not taking the political endorsements talk lying down, with secretary-general Edwin Sifuna warning Mr Mudavadi and Senator Moi, said to be favourites in the Uhuru succession plan, that they will face defeat in 2022.

“This issue of civil servants trying to prop up certain people for the presidential succession is not new. Even in 2002, Uhuru was a State project because Moi designated him as his successor. He failed. In 2013, Mudavadi was the preferred successor to Kibaki, and he failed. We want to assure you that all State projects, even in 2022, will fail because the will of the people is supreme,” Mr Sifuna told Citizen TV.

But Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu denied the claims, saying the government has no interest in weakening ODM.

“What happened in Western and is going on in Coast is Nasa rivalry playing out. We had no skin in the game in Western. It is also not in our interest to weaken ODM yet we are in BBI together, “added Mr Ngunjiri.

Downplay differences

Trade unionist Francis Atwoli, an ardent supporter of the BBI drive, also downplayed the differences in the BBI and Handshake team.

“BBI is going on well and will go through. These are just minor political storms in a cup. Not a big deal and the two Handshake principals will sort it out,” said Mr Atwoli.

As the BBI team feuds, those allied to Deputy President William Ruto are watching from the sidelines with glee, all too happy to be ‘vindicated’ that betrayal was in the offing in the Uhuru-Raila-led drive.

“The Handshake was done in silence and even the parting, if it is there, should be done in silence and with a lot of humility,” said Soy MP Caleb Kositany, the DP’s de-facto political spokesman.

“The Handshake was a two-man affair that instead of uniting us, it is leading to more divisions,” added Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua.


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