The Uhuru-Raila handshake continued to confound friend and foe on Friday when the Opposition leader met former President Mwai
Kibaki, with senior government officials in tow.
The meeting set tongues wagging, coming just over a week after another one with retired President Daniel Moi at his Kabarak home on April 12.
Barely one and a half months after Raila made a surprise truce with President Uhuru Kenyatta on March 9, silencing the country, the end game of the handshake has left everyone guessing.
That mystery deepened on Friday with Raila’s meeting Kibaki, his co-principal in the defunct Grand Coalition government that was dogged by power squabbles.
Analysts say the meetings are designed to reorganise and rearrange the country’s succession politics, with the ultimate prize being to
realign the Mt Kenya voting bloc, which is being primed through secret meetings by key individuals.
Conspicuous was the presence of high-flying government officials during yesterday’s meeting at Kibaki’s Muthaiga home in Nairobi.
They included Head of Civil Service Joseph Kinyua, Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko, Stephen Kirogo from the Cabinet Office and Public Service Principal Secretary Lillian Mbogo-Omollo.
Also present were Kibaki’s nephew and Laikipia Governor Nderitu Muriithi, Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o, Raila’s legal aide Paul Mwangi and Kibaki’s eldest son, Jimmy.
Mwangi is Raila’s nominee in the two-man dialogue committee set up by Raila and Uhuru to spearhead implementation of their
12-point agenda called ‘Building Bridges to a New Kenyan Nation’.
He and ambassador Martin Kimani were assigned the role of crafting the unity package to be implemented pursuant to the handshake. It is believed that the team has completed its work and the programme is being rolled out quietly.
A substantial public announcement is expected to be made by Uhuru during his State of the Nation address to Parliament on May 2.
Sources behind the scenes disclosed that a clique of influential Mt Kenya power brokers and lead ers are clandestinely pushing to position Raila to succeed Uhuru in an elaborate game plan to pacify the country and end the perennial fights.
The strategy to ‘repay the debt’ owed to the Odingas — going back to the role played by the Kenyatta and Odinga families at Independence — is expected to diffuse the traditional political tensions and ethnic animosity between the Kikuyu and Luo communities.
The plan has reportedly rattled Deputy President William Ruto and his political lieutenants.
“Raila will be the Mt Kenya candidate. Its just a matter of time,” an informed source within the Opposition told the Star
But in a statement to newsrooms after the Kibaki visit, Raila’s spokesman Dennis Onyango made no reference to any political deals and 2022 politics. Onyango said Kibaki endorsed the decision by Raila and Uhuru to work together to diffuse political hostilities for the sake of the country.
“The former President and former Prime Minister in the grand coalition government expressed willingness to continue shaping the future of the country using their vast experiences in politics and public service,” he said.
At the meeting, Raila reportedly explained to Kibaki the genesis of the handshake, describing it as “a product of heart-to-heart and brotherly discussion”.
“When the country is pulling in different directions, we waste a lot of energy and achieve very little. So we asked ourselves with the
President that we should try doing things differently,” Raila stated.
Kibaki expressed happiness with the direction the country is taking after the truce, describing it as the way to go.
“We should be able to do more. We are one people. We know the problems and we have to deal with those problems,” Kibaki said.
He deplored the tendency of African leaders to attend meetings abroad, proclaiming the need for the continent to unite, but beginning to fight fellow countrymen and women when they return home.
“It is always my wish that we could get each one of us to appreciate that there are no other persons to do this job. We are the people to do it. We have always described the problem. We now need to take action,” the former President said.
Before driving to Muthaiga, Raila met at his Capitol Hill office with Sonko, who has been among his most vocal detractors.
In a telling statement on his Facebook page, Onyango said that during the meeting, the Nairobi county chief recalled that ODM was his first party of choice when he joined politics.
Raila’s meeting with Kibaki comes just a fortnight after another unexpected meeting with Moi at his Kabarak home where he was received by top Kanu officials, including Kanu chairman and Baringo Senator Gideon Moi, the President’s son.
Raila has also met former Kiambu Governor William Kabogo, a known Raila and Ruto critic, and officials of the shadowy Nairobi Business Community.
The ODM leader has also been hob-nobbing with members of the First Family, including President Uhuru’s uncle George Muhoho,
who was central to the meetings that culminated in the handshake on March 9.
Raila’s string of meetings has been a political shocker to Ruto’s camp, with his allies claiming that Gideon has blocked their wing from meeting Moi.
National Assembly Majority leader and Ruto ally Aden Duale said those visiting Moi should not expect to use it as a 2022 campaign tool.
“Those visiting Mzee Moi are allowed to go and tell him ‘Pole (sorry)’ because he served us for 24 years. But those who intend to be in the 2022 race … you don’t need such visits … come and face us,” he said a week ago.
A week ago, former Nyeri Senator Mutahi Kagwe pulled a surprise when he declared he wants to see Raila’s name on the presidential ballot come 2022.
He said the 73-year-old veteran of Kenyan politics has lived up to his name as an elder statesman and commended him for exhibiting
“presidential mannerism”. “None in Kenya has exuded presidential qualities surpassing Raila,” Kagwe said.