In Summary
  • There are those who believe the President’s endorsement of a Jubilee candidate in an ODM stronghold was "strange” and does not augur well for the unity deal between him and Mr Odinga.
  • But even though the top leadership of ODM and Jubilee maintain that all is well, behind the scenes, Mr Odinga’s camp feels betrayed.
  • A source within the ODM party told the Nation that all along they had seen Deputy President William Ruto as the sole senior Jubilee leader fronting Mr Mariga until Wednesday.

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s endorsement of footballer McDonald Mariga for the Kibra parliamentary seat now threatens his unity deal with ODM leader Raila Odinga.

Coming days to the release of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report, politicians in the two camps are in a hurry to downplay the move.

While some contend that Kenya’s democracy has matured, others say BBI will shape the country’s future for years to come and therefore the Kibra contest is too small a thing to rock the ‘handshake’.

BETRAYED

However, there are those who believe the President’s endorsement of a Jubilee candidate in an ODM stronghold was "strange” and does not augur well for the unity deal between him and Mr Odinga.

But even though the top leadership of ODM and Jubilee maintain that all is well, behind the scenes, Mr Odinga’s camp feels betrayed.

A source within the ODM party told the Nation that all along they had seen Deputy President William Ruto as the sole senior Jubilee leader fronting Mr Mariga until Wednesday evening when the President threw his weight behind the football star’s candidature.

“Even on Wednesday when photos of the President receiving the Jubilee team at State House were shared on its social media pages, the first team to circulate them was the DP’s team in a bid to tell Kenyans that Mr Kenyatta was in the whole mix while we know how the DP desperately pushed for the Wednesday meeting,” the source said.

Jubilee secretary-general Raphael Tuju Thursday denied claims Mr Mariga’s candidature would have a negative impact on the ‘handshake’ but fell short of denying that the President would take part in the campaigns.

QUESTIONED

When questioned on whether the President will campaign in Kibra, Mr Tuju said: “That has not been discussed thus commenting on that will be speculation.”

Even as the President endorsed Mr Mariga, the Nation established how the DP’s team spent hours at Sagret Hotel waiting for him to join his convoy to State House.

“At first they went there but were denied entry since the Head of State had a busy schedule with his Rwandese counterpart who attended the OATTU event. When they got the slightest chance, they dwelt on a photo session and it is understood there was no single meeting to discuss the road map for the campaigns,” a source privy to the meeting revealed.

Mr Tuju said Wednesday’s courtesy call at State House was the first time President Kenyatta was getting involved with Kibra by-election politics as he has been spending much of his time concentrating on matters affecting the whole country.

“The President is very busy on very many things affecting the country but we are in touch as a party, not on politics but on development. Politics of Kibra or the party is a very small part of our engagement. The longest time we spent on politics this month is the few minutes we were in State House with Mariga,” said Mr Tuju.

PHOTO OP

He maintains the meeting was just a courtesy call and an opportunity for a photo session with the Head of State as the party normally does with its candidates before any by-election.

Mr Tuju said the delegation was led by Dr Ruto and himself as the party secretary-general accompanied by party leadership in Parliament led by Mr Aden Duale and Mr Benjamin Washiali.

“It was a courtesy call and not a party meeting where we discussed detailed party issues. So do not try to read more into it. We had the same with Wajir West MP Ahmed Kolosh before the area’s mini poll where the President received him and gave him a hat and that was it. We cannot censure speculations as we have the freedom of thought and speech,” he said.

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