Cord bosses drum up support for Raila rally

Sunday May 25 2014

Cord leader Raila Odinga (right), Kalonzo

Cord leader Raila Odinga (right), Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetangula at a past rally in Kisumu. Cord leaders have been holding political rallies in the city as they prepare their supporters to welcome coalition leader Raila Odinga on his return from the United States on Saturday. Photo/JACOB OWITI 

By ISAAC ONGIRI
More by this Author
By BERNARD NAMUNANE
More by this Author

Cord leaders have been holding political rallies in the city as they prepare their supporters to welcome coalition leader Raila Odinga on his return from the United States on Saturday.
The former Prime Minister is scheduled to address a rally at the KICC grounds.

The meeting was initially earmarked for Uhuru Park but the Opposition had to change the venue because the park has been booked for a rehearsal by the military in preparation for Madaraka Day celebrations on Sunday.

Mr Odinga’s deputy in the coalition, former Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, will on Wednesday lead a rally in Mathare, which will also be used to drum up support for the opposition candidate in the coming by-election. The rally is meant to prepare Cord followers for the return of their leader.

A team led by acting Cord leader Anyang’ Nyong’o and Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero is expected to meet today to draft the final itinerary and diary for Mr Odinga once he arrives.

Yesterday, Kibra MP Kenneth Okoth, who is accompanying Mr Odinga in the US, said the former Prime Minister had proposed that party supporters congregate at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre.

In a statement, Mr Okoth said the aim was to keep the crowds out of the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport for security reasons given the tough measures the government has taken to deal with escalating insecurity.

Only a delegation of coalition leaders headed by Mr Musyoka will be at the JKIA to welcome Mr Odinga when he arrives aboard an Emirates flight.

“Mr Odinga will arrive in Nairobi from Dubai. The public have been advised not to go to the airport but to congregate at KICC, where proper welcome celebrations and thanksgiving will be held,” said Mr Okoth.

Cord Chief Whip Jakoyo Midiwo said: “We are expecting about two million people. They cannot be stopped because we have already booked the venue.”
The coalition has rolled out vernacular adverts on FM stations to mobilise supporters to turn up for the rallies.

Yesterday, Suna East MP Junet Mohamed said Mr Odinga deserves an elaborate homecoming since he is a respected statesman.
“He is the remaining icon of African democracy after Mandela. That’s why his return is important,” said the ODM MP.

The Nation, however, learnt that there was disquiet over Mr Raila’s homecoming plans, with some MPs saying the hype was unnecessary.

Cord officials said the party will hold major rallies in Nairobi, Mombasa and in Western regions starting Saturday to engage the people on corruption, insecurity, government dysfunction and attempts by the Jubilee administration to scuttle devolution.

Last week, Cord launched an audit of the Jubilee government in which they criticised President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government for failing to fulfill some of its core campaign promises.

“There is huge concern that this government is going to destroy this economy beyond expectations,” said Mr Mohamed. “With signs of economic sabotage and the underhand business deals with the Chinese government we may be the Zimbabwe of East Africa in coming days”.

A decline in security, corruption and an appetite for huge business deals and tenders under the Jubilee government are some of the issues that the Cord leadership is planning to address in their countrywide rallies.

Flagbearer
However, besides Machakos Senator Johnstone Muthama and Mr Musyoka most Wiper Democratic Movement MPs have given the events a wide berth. Some of the party’s MPs have in the recent past been pushing Cord to back Mr Musyoka as its flagbearer in the next General Election.

The team preparing for Mr Odinga’s return has held rallies in Kibera, Mlolongo and on Sunday they were in Ruaraka.

The opposition that has been on a lull for several months is taking advantage of Mr Odinga’s homecoming to relaunch itself. However, criticisms of its performance in and out of Parliament, initiated by the Suna East MP targeting Senate Minority Leader Moses Wetang’ula and his National Assembly counterpart Francis Nyenze appears to have triggered the opposition into action. Since last week the party has been active with a series of activities already held and more planned for this week.