Siaya Senator James Orengo has confirmed that the United Kingdom cancelled his visa and that of ODM leader Raila Odinga after Raila's swearing-in on January 30, 2018, but denies, fervently, that the travel ban was the force behind the ''handshake''.
Mr Orengo, who is also the Minority Leader in the Senate, says ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi is economical with the truth in his just-published memoirs, Soaring Above the Storms of Passion, which detail intrigues in the opposition coalition, Nasa, in the heady days ahead of Mr Odinga’s swearing-in and after.
Describing the book as revisionism and a litany of misinterpretations, Mr Orengo says that while there was pressure from all manner of quarters, the push with the most intensity came from Mr Mudavadi and his other co-principals Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetang’ula who never supported the oath.
He said if the travel bans were meant to deter them, they should have come before the swearing-in.
Mr Mudavadi claims in the book that Mr Odinga had been banned from visiting many countries, including a key Western nation, and was particularly worried about what the US’s next course of action would be.
“I was with Raila when Acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Donald Yamamoto called him, saying if he went on with the oath certain consequences, including a visa ban, would follow. And Raila told him that the US couldn’t impose a president on Kenya and that, in any event, he had no interest in travelling to the US.”
He says the pressure from diplomats didn’t work and that President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga only came together after seeing the suffering of Kenyans.
“We didn’t mind the pressure from the diplomats. We had learnt how to handle them since the days of (Raila’s father and founding vice-president) Jaramogi (Oginga Odinga). The handshake only came after a lot of thinking and consultation,” Mr Orengo insisted.
Without disclosing the details, Mr Orengo said Nasa had plans to bring to effect the “import of Mr Odinga’s swearing-in as it wouldn’t have remained a mere ceremony.”
Mr Orengo denied claims that ODM was a lone ranger in the coalition, saying that all the Nasa principals were privy to every development, including the January 30 oath, even though they shunned it.
On Mr Mudavadi’s claim that Canada-based lawyer Miguna was an intruder in Nasa, Mr Orengo said the lawyer was a member of a broad movement that had been formed to build the momentum against the Jubilee administration.
“That’s why you saw civil-society types like (the economist David) Ndii playing a key role.”
He explained that Mr Miguna’s NRM came in handy because it had “some tools that could not fit in Nasa proper which was a parliamentary coalition.”
Mr Mudavadi had also claimed that the ODM leader agreed to work with President Kenyatta because of financial woes.
“While we can always do with more money we never ran out of cash. But if money was the motivation in our struggle over the years, we would have quit ages ago,” he said.