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Raila fights back

Saturday January 22 2011

Correspondent | NATION Prime Minister Raila Odinga listens to Energy assistant minister Magerer Langat at a past function.

Correspondent | NATION Prime Minister Raila Odinga listens to Energy assistant minister Magerer Langat at a past function. 

By DANIEL OTIENO [email protected]

Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Saturday launched a political attack on his rivals and said the Orange Democratic Movement was bracing itself for a new dawn that would make it a stronger outfit in the run-up to next year’s General Election.

The PM put on a brave political face in the face of a rebellion that has swept away key members of his party to make an informal political friendship with erstwhile rivals in PNU.

Mr Odinga fired a broadside at President Kibaki and a group of Cabinet ministers and MPs, some of whom include ODM rebels, who attended a presidential rally in Eldoret on Friday.

“The days when people used to congregate around the President for favours are over. We are more interested in building institutions that will ensure that development is spread throughout the country without patronage,” said the PM.

Although he did not mention the controversial KKK alliance by name, Mr Odinga said that all the current activities in the political scene were inconsequential in the race to capture power next year.

He also tore into a group led by his party’s foremost rebel, Mr William Ruto, which has been purveying the message that it was time for younger leaders to take leadership positions in the country.

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“Do not tell us your age, tell us what you stand for. We in ODM know the disease bedevilling our country and we have the prescription and that is our motto,” said Mr Odinga.

“We are not going to engage in noise making as those currently doing so are just but passing clouds. Jaramogi was in old age but with young and vibrant ideas. Some people are young with old and outdated ideas.”

He said that at one time he was among the formidable politicians popularly referred to as Young Turks and that the whole country knew what their ideals were.

He said those who were demonising the old would also grow old some day.

Mr Odinga said the ODM elections scheduled for March will be the first major step to rebranding the party and giving it a line-up to go to the elections.

He was speaking at Kang’o Kajaramogi during the 17th anniversary of his father’s death. Jaramogi Oginga Odinga died on January 20, 1994.

ODM deputy party leader Musalia Mudavadi said that the party had not chased anybody away and those who were disgruntled should walk out without making noise.

He also extended an olive branch to the rebels to come back and face the electorate at the party’s elections in March or ship out and shut up.

The Deputy PM said that politics in Kenya was gradually leaning towards a strong political party which could rally the numbers across communities and command a majority in Parliament.

“If we go our separate ways, we will be hanged on different trees and, if we succumb to tribalism, we will have lost our purpose in politics,” he said.

Mr Mudavadi said that whereas he and the PM had sacrificed their political careers for both President Kibaki and Mr Kenyatta, none of those leaders was willing to do the same.

“The only reason I lost my Sabatia seat in the 2002 elections was that I sacrificed for Uhuru Kenyatta. I’m not sure if Uhuru would make the same sacrifice for me or anyone else,” he said.

The political broadsides came a day after ODM rebels teamed up with PNU stalwarts to stage a major rally at the Eldoret 64 Stadium on Friday.

The presidential rally – fashioned as a peace meeting designed to reconcile communities who fought in 2008 – was attended by ODM chairman Henry Kosgey, deputy party leader William Ruto and more than 60 MPs.

Leaders at Saturday’s meeting declared that they were going all out to popularise their party and told disgruntled members to quit.

Thirty-two MPs who had congregated at Kang’o Kajaramogi declared they would support Mr Odinga for the presidency.

National Heritage minister Willam ole Ntimama said that the KKK alliance was built on hatred for the PM and hypocrisy.

“Kenyans have seen the tribal inclination under the banner of KKK but that will not shake ODM,” said Mr Ntimama.

Curiously present at the function was PNU’s Ferdinand Waititu who is a close ally of Deputy PM Uhuru Kenyatta and who, on Friday, was present at the presidential rally in Eldoret.

“I know Raila is a fighter and he has the ball on the penalty spot. The very people demonising him now are the very people who were singing his praises a few months ago. All he needs is to initiate dialogue with all communities and he will surely become president,” Mr Waititu said.

Cabinet ministers Fred Gumo, James Orengo and the party’s organising secretary Hassan Joho said it was time to go full throttle to counter those who were out to tarnish the party’s image.

They said they will move all over the country to rally support for the PM without singling out any community as the main partner.