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Uhuru, Raila tour shelved to allow for consultations

Saturday March 24 2018

JUSTUS WANGA
By JUSTUS WANGA
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A joint visit by President Uhuru Kenyatta and Nasa leader Raila Odinga to Kisumu initially planned for this week has been pushed back to allow for more time to address emerging issues threatening the nascent cooperation.

It is also emerging that allies of the opposition leader are beginning to question the ruling Jubilee Party’s commitment to his offer for dialogue after National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale ruled out electoral reforms and the restructuring of the country’s executive in the deal.

At the same time, a media briefing by Ambassador Martin Kimani and lawyer Paul Mwangi to outline the progress made so far was on Friday cancelled at the eleventh hour.

Mr Kimani and Mr Mwangi were mandated by President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga to develop the structure to help realise their shared objectives.

COMMITTEE

A source intimated that there were ‘issues that had not been agreed upon’, a sign of how bumpy the ride may get going forward.

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When contacted, they didn’t disclose reasons for the cancellation.

The Sunday Nation has also gathered that the team is set for expansion to have at least five more members on each side as they get down to work.

The unease in Mr Odinga’s camp, we established by talking to multiple members of his inner circle, stems from among other things the fact that long after he rallied his ODM party to ratify the new found alliance, Mr Kenyatta had not convened a Parliamentary Group meeting or party organs to whip his lieutenants into endorsing the deal.

They also point out President Kenyatta’s failure to convene a special sitting to align his Cabinet secretaries accordingly.

“We want to see pronouncements from the OP (Office of the President) outlining practical steps to achieve cohesion and address the issues agreed upon.

"We know that just like Jakom (Mr Odinga), the president means well. They just need to swing into action,” an Odinga aide said.

SUPPORT
The ODM party holds that a lot depends on actions by the president to show that the country is turning a new page and the State affairs are being run in a different way.

Notably though, no member of Mr Kenyatta’s party has openly opposed the deal save for the Senate Deputy Speaker, Tharaka Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki, who warned the president to tread carefully when dealing with a ‘cunning Odinga’.

On Saturday, Siaya Senator James Orengo, a close ally of Mr Odinga, called on President Kenyatta and the opposition chief to tame their lieutenants to ensure a meaningful dialogue.

“I know we also have some snakes on our side but President Kenyatta has more than us in Nasa,” he said in an apparent reference to sentiments by Mr Duale.

As a show of commitment to the process, Mr Orengo challenged the President to meet the ‘conditions precedent’.

“He should show some actions by dropping the cases against Nasa-leaning leaders including Miguna Miguna, Jimi Wanjigi and Ruaraka MP TJ Kajwang,” he said.

ELECTORAL REFORM
He also appealed to President Kenyatta to compensate the families of the people who were affected in the run-up to the August 8 general election.

The senator was speaking during the burial of High Court Judge Joseph Onguto at Dudi Gem, Siaya County.

Admitting he had no instructions to execute on the famous handshake on the floor of the House, Mr Duale last week said issues of electoral injustice and changes to the constitution were not on the agenda of Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga.

“We want Jubilee and [the] President to be given an opportunity to implement the Big Four projects. The talks will not be about changes to the constitution,” he said.

Mr Odinga’s side insists that electoral justice must be one of the matters under review as acknowledged in his joint communiqué with Mr Kenyatta on March 9.

Another matter Mr Odinga is grappling with before the visit is the choice of Kisumu as the first stop.

BETRAYAL
In as much as it bore the brunt of the post-poll crackdown by the state, he is said to be concerned that accompanying the President there may, in the eyes of his detractors, make it appear like a Luo affair.

And the move by Mr Odinga’s co-principals in Nasa, Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang’ula to take the battle to the people could poison the environment further.

Together with Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka, the politicians who were in the same camp with Mr Odinga running against Mr Kenyatta in the August 8 polls, accused him of betrayal by choosing to meet the head of state without them.

The decision to postpone the tour is partly based on credible reports collected both by the state and Mr Odinga’s allies indicating that the ground may not be receptive to the visit as yet even after Mr Odinga addressed series of rallies to ‘prepare the way’ more than one week ago.

ACTION PLAN
The other reason is the fact that the team charged with drawing up an action plan has been slow in coming up with a programme guide to the events.

Coming under intense fire from supporters demanding to know what he was doing about victims of police brutality in the region at the height of the disputed presidential vote outcome, Mr Odinga is said to be actively lobbying the president to initiate a compensation plan or at least publicly declare commitment that reparations for those who lost loved ones to enable pacify the region ahead of the much awaited visit.

In a report, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) puts the number of those killed between August 9 and 15, 2017 alone at 37.

“When I met President Kenyatta, I told him I carried with me a lot of things in my hands, including blood of my supporters who were brutally killed.

"I told him to open his heart if he wanted me to open mine and be frank as we discussed the issues including other past injustices,” Mr Odinga told his supporters at Kondele, Kisumu.

COMPENSATION
Mr Odinga has also come under criticism from sections of his supporters who are asking why he had to leave so many of his supporters to be killed in the name of pushing for electoral justice before mending fences with the president.

But Mr Kenyatta is said to be agonising over compensation of families of those felled by the police bullets.

A close confidante told Sunday Nation that the President’s challenge is how to agree to the request without appearing to publicly admonish the Police Force, which he has previously congratulated for a job well done in quelling post-election mass actions.

Mr Kenyatta must also contend with internal resistance from some senior government functionaries who see the arrangement with Mr Odinga as spoiling the party for them, especially the 2022 succession equation.

WETANG'ULA OUSTED
Equally, the dalliance has seen Mr Odinga come face to face with internal rebellion in his Orange party for the second notable time in as many years.

When Mr Odinga alongside his co-principals on Thursday met senators in a bid to rescue former Senate Minority Leader Moses Wetang’ula after they voted him out, Taita Taveta Senator Jones Mwaruma confronted him over his unilateral decision to meet the president.

His concern as narrated by one of those present was that what then should stop them from individually dealing with the national government.

Some ODM legislators from the Coast led by Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa have endorsed Deputy President William Ruto for President in 2022, a move that ODM distanced itself from.

Mr Edwin Sifuna, the ODM Secretary-General said they were focused on electoral justice.

“We are focused on electoral justice, which is a subject of the proposed dialogue between Mr Odinga and Mr Kenyatta and further on getting justice for the victims of police brutality following the 2017 elections,” Mr Sifuna said.