RAILA PLANS COAST VISIT TO COUNTER JUBILEE
Cord Leader Raila Odinga is moving to consolidate his strongholds in Western Kenya and at the Coast following a Jubilee onslaught that has made inroads into the two regions previously considered his biggest support base.
Raila heads to Busia county this weekend and will be in MP Ababu Nawamba’s Budalangi backyard to launch the referendum signature collection drive. He then will proceed to the Coast where he will pitch tent in at least five counties.
His charm offensive aims to forestall rebellion in parts of Western and Coast, especially following President Uhuru Kenyatta’s own charm offensive and new-found camaraderie with part of Raila’s ODM troops.
“Preparations are ongoing and I can assure you we shall receive the party leader,” Funyula MP Paul Otuoma told the Star. “The Secretariat is considering having the launch in Busia town, Budalangi or even both.”
But before attending the launch, Otuoma said the former Prime Minister is expected to attend the homecoming of Matayos MP Geoffrey Makokha Odanga.
Raila’s visit to Western comes at a time when top politicians from the Luhya community, including his former ally Kenneth Marende, are working on a deal to create a single political party ahead of the 2017 general election.
Yesterday, Raila’s spokesman Denis Onyango confirmed that his boss will tour Lamu, Taita Taveta, Kilifi, Kwale and possibly Tana River for two days, starting Tuesday next week.
“We shall be collecting signatures as we popularise the referendum push,” Onyango said.
Uhuru was in Mombasa this week, openly dining with opposition MPs, drinking madafu (coconut juice) and even enjoying a stroll along the Jomo Kenyatta Public Beach popularly known as Pirates, in an all-day bonding session.
The President and his Deputy William Ruto appear motivated by discord in ODM — sparked by the ouster of Kilifi North MP Gideon Mung’aro as Minority whip in the National Assembly — to slice away Raila’s support at the Coast.
Mung’aro and a host of MPs from the region have threatened to ditch ODM and form a Coast regional party ahead of 2017 elections.
Yesterday, Kilifi Women’s Representative Aisha Jumwa Katana, who is one of the ODM MPs seen to be warming up to the Jubilee government, said she has not received any information about Raila’s trip to her backyard.
“In fact, I am hearing that information from you. We have not received any invitation,” she said in a telephone interview.
Katana would neither confirm nor deny her support for the referendum push.
Last week, Raila warned that Jubilee’s strategy is to wrest away his traditional strongholds at the Coast, in Western, parts of Nyanza, especially in Kisii.
Raila maintained that Uhuru and Ruto are pushing leaders from the three regions to form their own political outfits to weaken his grip there.
“I can share with you a Jubilee strategy document which says that Jubilee should focus on the three areas. They are encouraging leaders to form regional parties to Balkanise ODM,” Raila said.
In a rare show of unity, Luhya’s political kingpins, including Amani Coalition leader Musalia Mudavadi, New Ford Kenya’s Eugene Wamalwa, former Lugari MP Cyrus Jirongo and former Speaker Kenneth Marende, held a closed-door meeting to lay the groundwork for a new political initiative.
Mudavadi has reached out to Namwamba and Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula to ditch Raila, saying the former PM will never allow them to ascend into leadership.