A visit by Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga to former President Daniel Moi’s Kabarak home has left tongues wagging and sparked debate about the 2022 presidential election.
The meeting comes a month after Mr Odinga and President Uhuru Kenyatta pledged to work together in uniting the country and are expected to unveil a roadmap of their pact in the coming days.
During Thursday’s visit, Mr Odinga was accompanied by Vihiga senator George Khaniri and Mvita MP Abdulswamad Shariff Nassir.
The opposition leader was received by Baringo Senator Gideon Moi, MPs William Kamket (Tiaty) and Silas Tiren (Moiben) as well as Kanu Secretary-General Nick Salat.
A statement sent to newsrooms by Mr Odinga’s aide Dennis Onyango said the opposition leader visited the former president to wish him well following his hospitalisation in Israel last month.
According to the statement, Mr Odinga and Mr Moi discussed the “current state of the nation”, in the meeting that lasted over one hour.
Mr Onyango circulated photos taken during the meeting with Mr Moi spotting a multi-coloured kitenge shirt and a black pair of trousers while Mr Odinga wore a blue suit and brown neck tie.
“The visit followed the recent hospitalisation of the retired president in Israel. The two leaders also discussed the state of the nation. The former president was strong and in high spirits,” part of the statement read.
SENATOR GIDEON MOI
However, a source privy to the meeting disclosed that the talks also dwelt on the Baringo senator’s interest in the presidency in 2022.
“The two leaders held extensive talks about the 2022 presidential race that featured Senator Moi,” the source said.
The younger Moi is currently locked in a vicious battle against Deputy President William Ruto for the control of the Rift Valley vote ahead of the 2022 presidential election with the DP’s supporters viewing the senator as a spoiler in the race.
As word spread that Mr Odinga was at Kabarak, a section of Rift Valley politicians allied to Mr Ruto reacted angrily, saying the meeting was aimed at scuttling the Deputy President’s chances of succeeding President Kenyatta.
Nakuru West MP Samuel Arama and Nakuru Jubilee Party Secretary-General Peter Mtumishi Cheruiyot described the meeting as inconsequential with regard to the presidential race.
“It is voters who will decide. We have already decided that it is William Ruto who we will back for the presidency in 2022. The rest are sideshows,” Mr Arama said.
Mr Cheruiyot said Mr Ruto was the preferred candidate to succeed Mr Kenyatta.
“As Jubilee, we are solidly behind Mr Ruto and we will vote for him overwhelmingly,” he said.
Coming at a time when Mr Odinga’s relations with his fellow principals in the opposition National Super Alliance (Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang’ula) are at an all-time low, political pundits believe that there is more than meets the eye in the Kabarak meeting.
“The 2022 presidential race realignments have kicked off in earnest,” Mr Jesse Karanja, a political analyst, said.
In the Rift Valley, the battle between Mr Ruto and Mr Moi has taken centre stage in the recent past.
On Thursday, Emurua Dikirr MP Johana Ng’eno maintained that he would back Senator Moi in 2022 but warned him that the seat will not come on a silver platter.
“You have to work for it. No one will vote for you because you are the son of a former head of state; you have to raise your stakes high,” the outspoken legislator advised.
He asked the younger Moi to uplift living standards in Baringo first because Kenyans are wondering why his people are languishing in poverty and insecurity yet he is eyeing a top position.
Baringo North MP William Cheptumo urged leaders from the community not to allow the 2022 politics to divide them.
The 2022 succession politics dominated speeches on Saturday during the homecoming party for Mr Kamket at Michuki grounds in Chemolingot.
Konoin MP Brighton Yegon and his Bureti counterpart Japheth Mutai said that Rift Valley residents supported the retired president and that it was high time his family supported Mr Ruto in 2022.
“Political divisions in Rift Valley threaten to cost the community the presidency in 2022.
"As a community, we will back one leader at a time and we call on Moi to back the DP this time,” Mr Yegon said.
Kapenguria MP Samuel Moroto is however of the opinion that politicians should stop campaigning for individuals.
“Kenyans know what they want and who to vote for when the right time comes.
"It is not a matter of telling us who to support and who not to because Kenyans are watching very closely and they will decide who is fit to be the next President,” Mr Moroto said Thursday.
Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen has, however, laughed off senator Moi’s 2022 presidential ambition, terming it unrealistic.