In Summary
  • Mr Odinga said his supporters were determined to boycott paying taxes to the government and remove President Kenyatta’s portraits from offices and business premises in his strongholds.

  • Mr Kenyatta was under pressure from Jubilee loyalists to arrest and charge Mr Odinga with treason after his mock swearing-in as the people’s president on January 30 at Uhuru Park.

  • Mr Odinga said that when President Kenyatta approached him for dialogue, he demanded that no politician interested in running for 2022 presidential elections from Jubilee party should be party to the talks.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga on Tuesday revealed how he and President Uhuru Kenyatta fought off hardline positions from their loyalists to save the country from plunging into civil strife last year.

Mr Odinga said his supporters were determined to boycott paying taxes to the government and remove President Kenyatta’s portraits from offices and business premises in his strongholds to protest the bungled General Election.

On the other hand, Mr Kenyatta was under pressure from Jubilee loyalists to arrest and charge Mr Odinga with treason after his mock swearing-in as the people’s president on January 30 at Uhuru Park, said Mr Odinga.

The fear of the country plunging into anarchy forced him and President Kenyatta to make painful concessions, to the disappointment of large sections of their respective support bases, said the opposition chief.

It is these concessions and subsequent talks that culminated in the famous handshake, he explained in Kitui.

SWEARING IN

“After my swearing-in, I learnt that Uhuru was under pressure from his core Jubilee supporters to arrest and drag me to court on treason charges but he declined because that could have plunged the country into endless protests and chaos,” said Mr Odinga in a candid speech that gave a detailed account of the behind-the-scenes political manoeuvres that forced him and President Kenyatta to the negotiating table without any preconditions.

Mr Odinga said President Kenyatta had agreed to arrest him but backed off on further and careful consideration of the full implications of such an action.

“Our people had already agreed to gather all presidential portraits and burn them. We were also going to start collecting taxes from people in our strongholds. I thought about it keenly and figured that we could easily head the Syria or Yemen way,” he said, adding that his diehard supporters wanted to burn President Kenyatta’s portraits at a public event in open defiance of his authority as President and in protest to the alleged election rigging.

As a leader, he was torn between doing what is right for Kenya and appeasing his supporters, who had legitimate grievances about electoral injustice, he said, adding:

COUNTRYWIDE PROTEST

“Had I allowed such a countrywide protest, the Jubilee government would have reacted with brutal force clamping down on Nasa supporters and this would have taken the country down a hugely dangerous path.”

Speaking when he presided over the launch of Kitui Villa, a boutique hotel owned by one of his foremost advisers, US based law scholar Prof Makau Mutua, the ODM party leader said that during those tense political moments, Kenya could have easily descended into unprecedented political chaos and civil strife.

Mr Odinga said that when President Kenyatta approached him for dialogue, he demanded that no politician interested in running for 2022 presidential elections from Jubilee party should be party to the talks.

“We first had preliminary talks on how to conduct the final talks. I gave my demands and he accepted that I will meet him alone. He also insisted that the Nasa co-principals are excluded and kept in the dark,” said Mr Odinga, adding that that was why he locked out Wiper leader and his running mate in the presidential elections Kalonzo Musyoka from the talks.

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