How senior gov’t officials averted confrontation with ODM over handshake betrayal claims


How senior gov't officials averted confrontation with ODM over handshake betrayal claims
President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga at the national launch of the BBI signatures collection exercise at KICC in Nairobi County. PHOTO| PSCU

Details have emerged of how senior government officials made frantic efforts on Sunday evening to avert what would have been the start of political confrontation between the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party and the Kieleweke wing of government.

ODM planned to hold a rally in Kibra in the wake of claims by Siaya Senator James Orengo that senior civil servants had hatched a plot to undermine party leader Raila Odinga; and although the Kibra rally was still held, it was a  low key affair.

Party members gathered at Kamukunji to address supporters, with an earlier notice from the communications team indicating that Mr. Odinga  would address the rally after attending a service at the PAG Church in Woodley ward.

At the church service, Mr. Odinga was a no show, and later during the public rally he was missing as well; instead, two Nairobi MPs led other leaders at the rally.

Citizen TV has established that behind the scenes manoeuvres led to the low key affair in Kibra.

Senior government officials spent the better part of the evening reaching out to top ODM officials to tone down and drop the Kibra rally that was seen as one that could escalate the handshake jitters.

Concerns raised by the party’s leaders were to be addressed amicably, key among them being the Kenyatta succession, claims of undermining Mr. Odinga as well as Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) resources.

Mr. Odinga skipped the scheduled rally in Kibra with senior lieutenants also giving the event a wide berth.

At the rally, however, Nairobi ODM branch chair and Makadara MP George Aladwa reaffirmed that Chungwa house will field Mr. Odinga for the presidency next year.

“Sisi kama wajumbe wa ODM, our presidential candidate in 2022 ni Raila Amollo Odinga,” he said.

The week ahead is now expected to provide more light on the state of the handshake and whether issues raised by ODM are addressed, even as political activity across the country intensifies.

Senate Minority Leader and Siaya Senator James Orengo on Saturday accused a cabal of high profile civil servants of trying to undermine the handshake and the BBI process.

“Whenever civil servants who are part of a cabal try to chart the destiny of a nation for their own personal interest, there can never be any peace. This is just a warning shot, because we’re going to expose these people, they’re trying to derail us,” he said.

“They have already declared in their minds who is going to rule Kenya next year, and I’m telling them you’re reaping where you did not sow. Without Raila Odinga, you could not be planning that issue of succession, so listen to these two principals; Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta.”

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