Will Moi help Raila in Rift Valley?
File | NATION Former President Daniel arap Moi (left) and Prime Minister Raila Odinga (right) at a past function.
By JULIUS SIGEI email@example.com
Posted Saturday, September 24 2011 at 22:00
- Analysts say closing of ranks will allay the Kalenjin hostility against the Prime Minister
Prime Minister Raila Odinga's visit to Eldama Ravine last Sunday and his apparent rapprochement with former President Moi is raising speculation about his new effort to recapture the Rift Valley vote.
The perceived closing of ranks between the two started two weeks ago when Mr Moi and his aide, Mr Joshua Kulei, attended the wedding of the PM's son, Raila Odinga Jnr.
The speculation intensified when Mr Odinga picked Mr Moi's son, Gideon, to head a Mau resettlement committee whose members include East African Community minister Musa Sirma, assistant ministers Magerer Lang'at and Beatrice Kones, as well as Sotik's Joyce Laboso - all the PM's allies.
The younger Moi's appointment is intriguing, given that his father is associated with the Kiptagich Tea Factory, earmarked for demolition in the next phase of the forest's restoration.
Analysts say while it might be a little late in the day to win back the support of a region, it is important to tone down the community's antipathy towards Mr Odinga after he severed links with the region's de facto leader Eldoret North MP William Ruto.
Were he and Mr Moi to work together, it would be a dramatic reunion after they differed in 2002 when Mr Odinga led an exodus of top Kanu leaders from the party to protest Mr Moi's choice of Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta as his preferred successor, a move that effectively quashed the latter's bid for State House.
Mr Odinga had, despite having been detained for nine years by the Moi administration, joined the party in its sunset years under the Kanu-NDP merger.
Energy assistant minister Magerer Lang'at told the Sunday Nation on Friday: "It would have been pretentious for us to claim we have the people when key leaders like Mr Moi were not with us. We don't want to repeat the mistake made by the other group," he said, referring to the Ruto camp.
"We acknowledge that everybody cannot be in ODM, but we can work together with the other leaders in a structured manner so long as there is no question about who the presidential candidate is."
He said the PM had adopted a new approach of meeting target groups together with holding rallies.
"We shall be visiting county after county because the needs of every region are unique. We shall also be talking to professionals, business people, church leaders, youth and women's groups."
The Kipkelion MP said ODM leaders in the Rift Valley had decided to debunk the myth created by the rebel MPs that Mr Odinga had wronged the community.
"Wherever we go we shall be asking what Mr Odinga's charge sheet is. Because you cannot accuse somebody without a charge sheet containing his alleged transgressions," he said.
He said the PM had in the past week met the Kalenjin Council of Elders chairman Maj (rtd) John Seei, and more meetings had been lined up for other leaders from all Kalenjin sub-groups.
The PM was also in Kapenguria last Saturday at the invitation of Pokot leaders to celebrate local MP Julius Murgor's appointment as assistant minister in the recent Cabinet reshuffle that was seen as Mr Odinga's last chance to clean the ODM house.
The PM is believed to have hosted meetings with various leaders from the Rift Valley in the weeks following the reshuffle and confirmation of charges hearings at the International Criminal Court.
New Higher Education minister Prof Margaret Kamar said they had invested so much in ODM it would not be prudent to leave.
"I don't know how to lie. I was elected on an ODM ticket, and I don't think it is right to talk about UDM now when we are busy serving Kenyans who voted for us. Elections are still far off," she said.
The Ravine celebrations were reportedly supposed to have been held earlier, but Mr Odinga, together with ODM leaders from the region led by Mr Lang'at, Agriculture minister Dr Sally Kosgei and Prof Kamar, agreed there could be no celebrations while Mr Ruto and ODM chairman Henry Kosgey were facing the hearings at the ICC.
Besides the Moi rapprochement and the warm reception the PM has received in the recent past, he is also said to be buoyed by ODM's victory in the elections in Nakuru municipality and Baringo County Council.
"The appointment of Mr Sirma has re-energised our resolve to galvanise ground support; he had maintained a firm stand and unswerving loyalty to the ODM," said Baringo Central ODM chairman James Rotich, who recently led professionals and political leaders from Baringo County to a meeting with the PM at his Nairobi office.
But Kanu secretary-general Nick Salat downplayed the significance of Mr Gideon Moi's appointment and the former President's attendance at the wedding.
"Why sensationalise a simple appointment? There has not been any discussion by Mzee (Moi), Mr Odinga, Kanu nor ODM. We care for the conservation of Mau and the resettlement of our people, and wherever the appointment of Gideon came from we welcome it," said Mr Salat, adding that Kanu always wanted to be part of the solution to the Mau conservation effort.
Konoin MP Julius Kones and his Cherangany counterpart Joshua Kutuny scoffed at the union, saying it was inconsequential because "a lot of water has gone under the bridge".
"Raila is playing politics with the resettlement issue. But it is too late for him to now pass as the saviour when people know he was the cause of their suffering," said Mr Kones, adding that Mr Moi did not have a grip on the Rift Valley for the PM to bank on.
"Raila is lying to himself to even imagine he could regain an iota of support in the Rift Valley, more so now when the community's leaders are before the ICC," Mr Kutuny said.
Former Subukia MP Koigi wa Wamwere said the coming together of the two was motivated by their mutual intent to bring down Mr Ruto.
"Mr Odinga is trying to convince the Kalenjin community that by differing with Mr Ruto he had not differed with the whole community. Whether he gets a significant number of votes for doing that is neither here nor there, but it certainly does mellow the community's hostility against him," he said.
Prof Egara Kabaji of Masinde Muliro University said: "Even if Moi does not necessarily say Raila ‘tosha', he would still have campaigned for him by not attacking him like he did in 2007."
Will Moi help Raila in Rift Valley? *- Politics*|Daily Nation:
Smart move by RAO to quash the gutter politics that is full of nepotism that has marred Kenya's election! Politicians make a compromise and mend hostility towards Nyayo, a man that detained him for nearly a decade is a heroic act! RAO is the best man to play his cards coming 2012! Better watch him and learn smart politics