Opposition leader Raila Odinga has told off critics of his handshake with President Uhuru Kenyatta, saying that far from the assumptions made so far, their focus is not on the 2022 politics.
And in an apparent reference to Deputy President William Ruto, Mr Odinga said that Kenyans cannot be held at ransom because of a pre-election agreement with President Kenyatta.
The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader said Saturday that neither him nor Mr Kenyatta have discussed or indicated interest in the presidency in 2022.
Speaking at his Opoda home in Bondo, Siaya County when he hosted a delegation from Nakuru County, the ODM Leader said his focus and that of the President is to unite Kenyans and build a strong foundation for development and economic growth.
"We want to unite Kenyans as one and not one that is divided along tribes. That's what we agreed on with Uhuru,” he said.
"We haven't said we want this or that...Uhuru hasn't said he wants to vie for presidency again. Raila has not said he wants to go and vie for presidency again. I haven't said. I haven't. We have said until we change Kenya first, we want to look at 2017 and see what we can change to root out the evils bedevilling our nation and fight corruption so that we can put up a strong foundation. That's our stand with Uhuru,” he stated.
The ODM leader hosted a delegation of about 150 people from Nakuru County which was led by former Molo MP Njenga Mungai, a close ally.
The group was received by the ODM leader at his father's home in Bondo where they toured the late Jaramogi's mausoleum, museum and homestead before they proceeded to his Opoda home where they were received by his wife Ida Odinga.
Mr Mungai said the delegation came to appreciate Mr Odinga and the President for their unity and that the two have their full support.
“There is no distance we can't go to appreciate Raila because he is a healer of many things in this country,” the former MP said.
He said the delegation was mainly composed of members of the Gikuyu community residing in Nakuru County and some from the Rift Valley, including some representatives of the Gikuyu Council of Elders from Nakuru and Naivasha.
"We acknowledge your work Hon Odinga and I want to assure you that you are respected in Kenya. We want to assure you and Uhuru that no one can scare you,” Mungai stated.
He told those criticising Mr Odinga to stop, saying he has proved his worth as a leader.
“The politics of who should take over doesn't apply anymore. Give it to whoever has shown ability; Raila has proved himself. When the time comes we shall move and tell the people,” he said.
Using an illustration from Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice, the ODM leader, without mentioning names, said Kenyans cannot be held at ransom by the pre-election agreement that was reached between the President and his deputy William Ruto.
"Now we have a situation of a Shylock of Kenyans. So we have been told we agreed, so you must pay, if you don't pay there will be trouble, you will pay by blood," said the ODM leader.
"We won't allow some Kenyans to threaten others here because we were not there when you were signing agreements. We were not there. You can't go and make an agreement on the heads of all Kenyans who were not involved," he stated.
Accompanying the ODM leader were senators Moses Kajwang (Homa Bay) and James Orengo (Siaya) MPs Elisha Odhiambo (Gem) Otiende Amollo (Rarieda) Millie Odhiambo (Mbita), John Mbadi (Suba South) and Ugunja’s Opiyo Wandayi. Also present was Siaya Governor Cornell Rasanga and his deputy James Okumbe.
The Luo Council of Elders was also present led by their chairman, Mr Willis Opiyo Otondi.
Mr Odinga emphasised that his main agenda with the President is build one Kenya.
"We don't talk about Luos or Kikuyus, we talk about all Kenyans; all the tribes of Kenya. We want all the children of Kenya to have access to equal opportunities from education, to quality healthcare and good housing, among others. That is our position,” he said.
He said doors are open to anyone who would wish to join him and Mr Kenyatta to build a strong agenda, but was quick to add that those joining them “must be clean”.
"Whoever is ready to join us in this journey, I am ready. But don't invite me to give out dirty money in weekend meetings,” Mr Odinga said.
He once again hit out at churches saying they have become a laundry for dirty money.
"They give out huge amounts of money, new notes that have come from the bank and taken to church to be washed. The church has become a laundry to sanctify dirty money. We don't want our churches to be used to sanctify dirty money," said the opposition Leader.
Former Eldama Ravine MP Musa Sirma said the handshake has brought peace in the country and restored confidence among various communities.
"As someone from the Rift Valley, I wonder why someone gives threats. Kenya has changed; it’s not what it used to be. Now people are development focused and that's what the handshake is all about," he said.
He said political leaders should be more worried about the legacy they will leave behind.
"Others are focused on 2022. When do they work? Let's focus on development and talk about 2022 later," he stated.
Mr Sirma, Mr Wandayi and Ms Odhiambo said Kenyans are waiting for Mr Odinga and the President to give political direction.
“The handshake can't go just like that,” Mr Sirma said.
Mr Wandayi said once Mr Odinga and Mr Kenyatta declare their direction, they will support them fully.
"We are just waiting for a signal from Raila and Uhuru on what direction to take," he stated.
The ODM MPs said a national referendum cannot be avoided.
Mr Amollo said the Building Bridges Initiative will soon give its report, adding that there is a likelihood that there will be a referendum to determine whether the Constitution should be changed or not.
"Others have already decided they will oppose the referendum. As one who wrote the Constitution as part of the Committee of Experts, I can assure you there's a lot in there that needs to be changed for Kenya to progress," he said.
On his part, Mr Mungai hit out at central Kenya MPs, saying they lack political direction and clarity.
“I am very particular about central MPs. They don't know what they are talking about. They need to be taken to seminars and workshops and be taught about Kenya and politics because they don't understand it,” he said.
The former Molo MP said those who are supporting Mr Ruto are doing so because of money.
“Money has been poured in your pockets and that's why you are all trooping there. Every weekend you are giving money. Where is the money coming from?” he asked.