In Summary
  • Raila has been on a warpath with Western ambassadors after he accused them of siding with Jubilee.
  • National Assembly Minority Whip Junet Mohamed played the “postman” role in the talks.
  • Mudavadi says it is Mr Kenyatta who scored big by getting his rival to recognise his presidency.

Delicate secret talks involving at least three night meetings and numerous direct phone calls between President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga began late last year before a final push led to the surprise deal on Friday that could re-engineer the political scene.

The Sunday Nation can also reveal that before agreeing to jointly address the country, Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga met at the home of a Judiciary official in a bid to close ranks.

Members of the Odinga and Kenyatta families, who have had a love-hate relationship since independence, were also deeply involved in preparing the ground for the pact described in an official statement as “building bridges to a new Kenyan nation.”

AMBASSADORS

Recent talks between Kikuyu and Luo elders also helped to soften the ground, although those involved were not aware of subsequent talks that led to the Friday deal.

And the name of US ambassador Robert Godec has featured prominently.

His behind-the-scenes efforts partly played a role ahead of the visit by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Nairobi.

With the agreement, Mr Odinga now hopes to amend the tattered relationship with the West.

He has been on a warpath with Western ambassadors, especially US and UK, after he accused them of siding with Jubilee despite "glaring human rights violations and electoral fraud".

DANGEROUS PATH

Those in the full picture of the behind the scenes talks said it was at the last secret meeting between Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga before the Friday one that the working relationship between the two was clinched.

The closely-knit group involved in the mediation is said to have felt that with the acrimony between the two sides coupled with the State’s brutal crackdown on the opposition and a struggling economy, the country was sliding into a dangerous path.

But Mr Odinga’s “swearing-in” on January 30 temporarily jolted the talks as Mr Kenyatta questioned the opposition leader’s sincerity.

SECRET

Interviews with some of the individuals at the heart of what has been billed as a “fragile diplomatic push” show that the two politicians have been in direct talks, mostly via phone, a closely guarded secret with the spymaster Philip Kameru playing a pivotal role.

Mr Kameru, a retired Major General is said to have in January played a big part in dissuading Mr Kenyatta from arresting Mr Odinga after he defied him and took the oath of office.

It also turned out that the Minority Whip in the National Assembly Junet Mohamed, a confidante of Mr Odinga, played the “postman” role and is the reason Mr Odinga insisted on going with him to Harambee House.

AMENDMENTS

And once Friday was confirmed as the long awaited day, a small group of handlers of the two spent the entire Thursday fine-tuning details of the talks, an exercise that went well into the night.

“Raila chose Mwangi (Lawyer Paul Mwangi), Uhuru picked the ambassador (Martin Kimani, the director National Counter-Terrorism centre).

The two were tasked to come up with a position paper incorporating the thinking of their bosses. That was the document released on Friday.

It was shared with Uhuru and Raila early in the week. Each made amendments to the paper,” a source privy to the talks told us on Saturday.

He added: “If you were keen, you must have realised that the two leaders have not traded harsh words in public for the last couple of weeks, it was a sign of good faith from both ends.”

POLITICAL DEAL

Suspicion that Mr Odinga’s co-principals in the National Super Alliance were also putting final touches to a deal with Deputy President William Ruto may have also influenced the fast-tracking of the Friday deal between Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga.

The former Prime Minister was engaging the Head of State behind the backs of his peers in Nasa whom we are also reliably informed had opened a channel to broker a political deal to “cooperate” with Jubilee.

“Raila acted before they did,” said an ally of Mr Odinga.

Suspicion within Nasa has been rife since Mr Kalonzo Musyoka, Mr Musalia Mudavadi and Senator Moses Wetang’ula skipped the “swearing-in” ceremony.

REALIGNMENT

Allies of Mr Musyoka, Mr Odinga’s running mate in the August 8 presidential election like Mr Farah Maalim admit that Mr Odinga stole the thunder from them.

“There is going to be a very serious realignment. Raila beat them to this but they will try and make up for it,” said Mr Maalim. 

But despite the show that Nasa was in fact dead and buried, one of the principals who asked not to be named expressed hope that a planned meeting would nonetheless proceed on Monday.

“Agenda is to discuss future of Nasa. It was planned during Wednesday’s Summit meeting before he (Raila) ambushed us with the events of Friday. He did not give any indication that he was in talks with Mr Kenyatta during our Wednesday meeting. Friday’s events will now make a substantial part of Monday’s agenda given that they are highly contentious,” he said.

STRUCTURES

Mr Odinga’s allies could not immediately confirm his availability at the meeting.

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