President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga have postponed their visit to Mt Kenya region to June amid a simmering rebellion by a section of Central Kenya politicians over the duo’s political pact.
According to sources close to the two leaders, the meeting was scheduled to take place between April and May, but it has been deferred in what political pundits interpret as a response to the growing rebellion by some Central Kenya leaders who have transferred their allegiance from the President to his deputy William Ruto.
Mr Kamau Mweha, a Kigumo Constituency politician and a close ally of Mr Odinga, said the two leaders will visit the region in a bid to popularise the Building Bridges Initiative that was formed following a political pact on March 9, 2018 between the President and the opposition chief.
Although he did not explain why the leaders postponed their meeting, Mr Mweha told the Nation that they will embark on a vigorous tour of the region to help residents understand objectives of the handshake and correct misconceptions.
Gatanga MP Nduati Ngugi, who is allied to a faction supporting Mr Kenyatta and the pact, confirmed to the Nation that the President and Mr Odinga will tour the region.
He said they were waiting for confirmation from the offices of the two leaders to know which county they will visit.
“We are yet to know the date, but the meeting is there. It is aimed at popularising the handshake and uniting the nation as the President promised after greeting Mr Odinga,” he said.
Mr Ruto and his allies have cast doubts on the handshake, accusing Mr Odinga of hatching a plot to divide Jubilee, claiming “he is a wolf wearing a sheep’s skin”.
Mr Ruto has made numerous visits to the region, cementing ties with some key leaders in the process.
Interestingly, leaders allied to Mr Ruto are not privy to the tour. Maragua MP Mary Waithira, a staunch Ruto supporter, said she has just heard rumours about the meeting.
“We are just hearing from the corridors that Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga are planning to tour the region, and we are treating the news as rumours,” she told the Nation.
Pundits have associated the delayed tour with the growing popularity of Mr Ruto in the region, speculating that the ground might be too hostile for Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga.
Mr James Kamau, a political analyst, said the two leaders could be buying time for the rebellion to simmer down.
“We have been witnessing leaders from Mr Ruto’s faction from Mt Kenya’s region, which is the political bedrock of Mr Kenyatta, accuse the President of neglecting the region; while they accuse Mr Odinga of hatching a plot to divide the ruling party, a move that could have informed them to postpone the meeting,” Mr Kamau told the Nation.