Uhuru allies prepare ground for Raila in Mt Kenya

The session was also attended by some of the President’s closest allies including Jubilee vice-chairman David Murathe and National Assembly Majority leader Amos Kimunya.

In fact, Kimunya announced the meeting was convened with the President’s blessing.

Three other crucial meetings have been planned in Nyeri, Murang’a and Meru counties.

An endorsement by the Kikuyu Council of Elders in January next year is also expected in Nyeri, months after their historic visit to Raila’s Bondo home in October.

Raila is also scheduled to meet Njuri Ncheke elders.

On Monday, Kamanda, an influential nominated MP, told the Star the President’s troops across Mt Kenya region are being whipped to toe the line and back Raila.

“We have told our people we are going to support Raila because this country will be safe in his hands,” Kamanda said, adding that Jubilee’s promises to DP Ruto had collapsed.

National Assembly Deputy Majority Whip Maoka Maore told the Star Mt Kenya was warming up to Raila and it was not if but when major declarations will be made.

“What is certain is that we are supporting ODM leader Raila Odinga because that is where the handshake is taking us. We shall talk to our people directly and tell them who the real enemy is – it is not Raila,” the Igembe North MP said.

Maore, a key figure in Uhuru’s circle, said the region stands to gain more under a Raila presidency than in any other arrangement.

“We are in for Raila for the long haul,” Maore said.

The ruthless charm offensive planned by the President’s allies in his backyard could deflate Ruto’s support and complicate his State House bid, 19 months to the general election.

Political analysts say the DP now faces an uphill battle in his bid to succeed the President.

Kimunya said Mt Kenya will not support Ruto because the DP is opposed to the BBI referendum, which he said proposes major benefits for the region.

“He [Ruto] has opposed the one man one shilling revenue formula and now he is pushing for the multiple-choice referendum so he can reject the 70 new constituencies. We cannot support such a man,” Kimunya said.

With the Building Bridges Initiative referendum likely to be approved by a majority of voters, Kimunya said, the region should support the ODM leader to continue the President’s legacy plans.

“When one retires, the other remains [in leadership] to implement. As we pass BBI in Mt Kenya, we also carry the chief architect with us as the implementer past 2022,” Kimunya said of the need to support Raila.

He signalled the significance of the BBI in planning for the President’s succession.

Ruto’s allies have insisted Uhuru should honour a pre-2013 Jubilee election pledge in which the President declared that he would hand over to Ruto for another decade-long rule.

The President has, however, lashed out at Ruto for being impatient and running in the opposite direction instead of waiting for the succession baton at the right relay position.

Uhuru’s allies have maintained the region is not aware of any binding deal to back Ruto in 2022. The March 9, 2018, handshake is seen as the way to retool Mt Kenya’s political direction.

“This marriage was about two people, the rest of us went just to witness. If the [Uhuru-Ruto] marriage is dead, let it die and nobody should cry because we were not part of that,” Kamanda said on Friday.

He went on, “Stop coming here to tell us that it was 10 years for Uhuru and 10 years for another one … We were not part of that.”

The significance of the Ol Kalau meeting was captured by the attendance of luminaries from Mt Kenya, including ex-Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth.

Kenneth, a 2013 presidential candidate, is being touted for a key national position – either prime minister or deputy president – in Raila’s BBI succession matrix.

Murathe is a key Uhuru confidant with a lot of sway within Jubilee and has disavowed any 2022 deal between Uhuru and Ruto, saying the DP should be ready to face competition for the party ticket.

The meeting at Kamanda’s home was also attended by MPs Kanini Kega (Kieni), Sabina Chege (Muranga Woman Representative) and Kiambu Woman Representative Gathoni Wamuchomba, among others.

Raila has denied his handshake with Uhuru is loaded with 2022 succession missiles, saying their coming together is about the unity and prosperity of the country, not the 2022 General Election.

“We agreed with Uhuru that for now, we are not talking about 2022. That poll is an event that will come and go but Kenya will remain,” Raila said at the event.

(Edited by V. Graham)

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