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ODM lawmakers vow to protect presidency, Uhuru-Raila deal

Saturday January 12 2019

Opiyo Wandayi

Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi at the funeral of the mother of Awendo MP Walter Owino in Awendo, Migori County, January 11, 2019. PHOTO | VIVERE NANDIEMO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

VIVERE NANDIEMO
By VIVERE NANDIEMO
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A group of Orange party legislators has put off Jubilee leaders critical of President Uhuru Kenyatta and his development record, saying they must respect the presidency.

The members of Raila Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) said they will put up a joint force against Mr Kenyatta's critics. Their mission going forward is "to protect the presidency at whatever cost".

FINAL TERM

The lawmakers stated their position during the burial of Awendo MP Walter Owino's mother in Awendo, Migori County, on Friday.

They asked members of the ruling coalition to let the president finish his second term in peace.

Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja) said those attacking the President should know "we will protect the presidency at all costs".

The MP said, "Those attacking the president are against the handshake. They want to drive a wedge between the president and our party leader. We shall not sit back and watch the peace and tranquillity brought about by the handshake threatened."

Mr Wandayi, ODM's political affairs director, added, "Political leaders must watch their tongues. Let them check their utterances both in public and in private."

ALLEGIANCE

Anthony Oluoch (Mathare) said, "You said you want to complete the journey and we are helping you do it. The person completing the journey is Uhuru Kenyatta, the president of the republic of Kenya. He needs to be respected. That is going to be our bone of contention with you. We cannot allow you to disrespect the presidency."

He added, "The president belongs to all Kenyans. He does not belong to Kiambu or Nyeri only. He is the president of us all and that must be respected."

Migori Senator Ochillo Ayacko echoed this, saying Kenyans owe President Kenyatta allegiance and respect for the sake of civility.

"We invite the president and his government to visit this place as many times as he wishes because we pay taxes, follow the laws of Kenya and respect him."

RAILA 2022

The group further said President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga should be allowed to unite the country following their truce.

On the presidential race in the 2022 general election, the legislators exuded confidence that the handshake was preparing Mr Odinga to take over.

One of the bones of contention in Jubilee is the uncertainty that now surrounds Deputy President William Ruto's bid to succeed President Kenyatta.

Ong'ondo Were (Kasipul Kabondo) said, "Raila Odinga will run for the presidency. As you can see things are already set for him. The handshake is paving way for a Raila presidency. He will not be just an ODM candidate but Kenya's presidential candidate. That is why we shall follow what he tells us without question."

Peter Masara (Suna West) also said that Mr Odinga is under preparation to take over and that "2022 things are looking good [sic]".

PARTY WOES

The politicians also asked their Jubilee counterparts to stop blaming Mr Odinga for their woes.

The party has been in the limelight following David Murathe's relentlessness in stopping Mr Ruto from vying for the top office. Mr Murathe has resigned from his position as the party's vice-chairman.

DP Ruto's allies allege that Mr Odinga is covertly using the handshake to cause a rift in Jubilee but the ODM leader's allies have strongly disputed this notion.

Tom Odege (Nyatike) said, "Let Jubilee put its house in order. We shall ensure three things: that you don't stray into ODM affairs, that you don't call the name of Raila unnecessarily and that we [stick to] our responsibility as elected leaders to protect the presidency. We are ready to fight and die for those three things."

Chris Omulele (Luanda) also declared his support for the president.

CRITICISM

Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria has accused the President of sidelining the Central region in development.

The vocal MP said Mr Kenyatta has not done much for the region yet its people voted in large numbers for him in the 2013 and the two 2017 races to State House.

“As we enter 2019, you (voters) must think. Our responsibility is not just to vote [for the government to] take development to other regions. That kind of nonsense must stop,” said Mr Kuria.

“We want the President to also commission water projects, roads and electricity when he comes here. In Kisumu he commissioned a road project but when he visits (Kiambu) he only issues certificates to recovering alcoholics.”

Mr Kuria's remarks provoked Mr Kenyatta into referring to his critics as washenzi (fools) and clarifying that he has not ignored Mt Kenya.

Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri joined Mr Kuria in taking issue with President Kenyatta and launched the Washenzi Movement that he said will make clear the plight of voters.