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When Raila’s bitter rivals have extended him an olive branch

By Winnie Onyando September 24th, 2023 2 min read

In a surprising turn of events, several prominent political figures in Kenya have lately found themselves compelled to extend gestures of goodwill to opposition leader Raila Odinga whenever they visit his stronghold.

Despite their history of relentlessly criticising Mr Odinga, the likes of Moses Kurua, Rigathi Gachagua, Cleophas Malala and President William Ruto have occasionally changed tune and praised the Azimio la Umoja leader to avert hostility from the public while in his political stronghold.

Here are a few noteworthy instances:

Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria during a fundraiser in aid of Africa Inland Church Upper Kipkaren in Turbo Constituency, Uasin Gishu County on September 17, 2023. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA

Moses Kuria – The Cabinet Secretary for Investments, Trade, and Industry recently revealed his connection to Mr Odinga’s late father, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga. Mr Kuria disclosed that Jaramogi played a pivotal role in saving him from expulsion from the University of Nairobi.

Despite his history of being a vocal critic of the opposition leader, Mr Kuria’s acknowledgment of this act of kindness only exposes the complexity of political relationship.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga is received by Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua at KICC, Nairobi during day two of Africa Climate Summit on September 5, 2023. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO

Rigathi Gachagua – Earlier this year, the Deputy President offered unexpected praise for Mr Odinga while visiting Homa Bay County. During the groundbreaking ceremony for the Homa Bay County affordable housing programme, Mr Gachagua commended the ODM party leader for his contributions to the country’s growth in various sectors.

“We just have political differences. Baba is respected in our government. His vehicles and security have been well-taken care of. He is a Kenyan leader who ought to be respected due to his status. All of you belong to this government headed by President William Ruto,” Gachagua said.

This was a departure from Gachagua’s usual hostility to Mr Odinga.

President William Ruto shakes hands with Azimio la Umoja leader Raila Odinga during the funeral service of Mukami Kimathi, who was the wife of freedom fighter Dedan Kimathi, on May 13, 2023 in Njambini, Nyandarua County. PHOTO | PCS

President William Ruto – In July, the Head of State shared a surprising anecdote during the homecoming ceremony of Interior Principal Secretary Raymond Omollo.

President Ruto recalled receiving a disciplinary letter from the ODM during his tenure as Deputy party leader.

“I was the Deputy party leader in ODM and at some point, I also received a letter from the party’s disciplinary committee. And if you see that you have received such a letter from ODM, that is when you know you are on the right path,” the President said with a touch of homour.

President Ruto and Mr Odinga share a long love-hate relationship, having at one time been political allies.

UDA party secretary general Cleophas Malala addresses members of the public in Eldoret town after opening the Agricultural Society of Kenya Eldoret National Show on March 03, 2023. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA

Cleophas Malala – The UDA Secretary-General recently announced plans to reopen the vandalized UDA offices in Kisumu and Siaya.

This move followed calls for dialogue and reconciliation made by both President Ruto and Mr Odinga.

“In the spirit of appreciating dialogue efforts as called for by my President, William Ruto and Raila Odinga, we shall be going to Siaya and Kisumu City to repaint the vandalised UDA offices and officially re-open them,” Malala said.

These instances serve as reminders of the dynamic and ever-changing nature of political relationships in Kenya. While political opponents may engage in heated rhetoric, moments of conciliation and cooperation can also emerge, underscoring the importance of dialogue and reconciliation in the country’s political landscape.

Also read: 

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