The Kibaki succession soap opera is expected to move a notch higher this weekend when ODM captain and the man many people widely believe defeated Kibaki at the presidential poll, Raila Odinga, heads to Nyanza and Western Provinces to host a series of significant events at his rural homes in Nyanza in celebrating his homecoming.
According to sources privy to the arrangements, the ODM has laid down elaborate plans for Raila’s homecoming ceremony expected to run for the entire coming weekend from May 10 to 12, culminating with putting in an appearance at the home of the Minister for Fisheries Development, Mr. Paul Otuoma in Funyula, Western province. The guest list reads like who-is-who in Kenya’s political and business circles. The entire ODM pentagon, the party’s NEC, the yet to be disbanded presidential campaign team and a distinguished mix of local and overseas visitors are expected to grace the occasion including the flamboyant Ukambani politican John Harun Mwau. Unconfirmed reports indicate that the Guest of Honour will be none other than President Mwai Kibaki. Although the V-P Kalonzo Musyoka has been officially invited, he is unlikely to attend and risk being fried alive (read: embarrassed) by Ngilu and Mwau who are his Ukambani political archrivals, not to mention prospects of facing the thousands Raila’s fanatical supporters drawn mainly from Kondele and Obunga slums who, unlike IDPs in Eldoret, have nothing to lose and will not hesitate to heckle the V-P who is deemed as a man who has been out to politically frustrate ODM.
Not since the NDP/KANU merger rally in Kisumu a decade ago has the region witnessed such momentous organization. A committee that includes the Kisumu Mayor and the Nyanza OCPD has been meeting regularly to ensure everything goes according to plan. Hotels and commercial flights to Kisumu are fully booked for the weekend although a good number of guests are expected to land at Kisumu airport in personal and chartered aircraft.
The region is currently bracing itself to give ‘their son’ a thunderous homecoming following his well planned and highly publicized but abortive presidential bid. To the people of Nyanza, the president will hardly visit the area unless he is coming for official state functions. Things were not made easier for the president that his relations with Raila were not the best ever since the collapse of the NARC coalition following the trashing of the MOU. The president himself, as candidate in 2007, did not campaign in the area and even his own lieutenants planned but completely failed to address a single campaign rally in the Luo Nyanza region.
Political observers opine that these homecoming events are just but political rallies aimed at flexing political muscles. High on the agenda at Raila’s homecoming, will be the explosive issue of the still unresolved pecking order in the higher echelons of government.
Interestingly Ababu Namwamba, the ODM MP for Budalangi, and a long time admirer/supporter of Raila Odinga, yesterday successfully sort and got permission to introduce a bill in parliament aimed at establishing an official opposition. Although Raila himself has on several occasions spoken against forming an official opposition in a grand coalition, Raila is not - by all means - a politician who was born yesterday and he very well may be the one behind the clever actions of one Ababu Namwamba. ODM’s unfinished business (read: taking over the reins of power in Kenya) is still well within grasp; and despite the diplomacy and smiles exhibited by its leaders some of whom are now in cabinet, the ultimate goal of the party is to ensure that it becomes the ruling party in Kenya – on or before December 2012. In prevailing circumstances, there is no other way in toppling this government except through parliament where incidentally, the party has significant control through both the Speaker and Deputy Speaker's posts.
Many people doubt this, but anxiety in PNU has not gone unnoticed by keen political observers. The forthcoming by-elections in 5 constituencies are due in a month and they will be a litmus test for the stability and future of the grand coalition cabinet. President Kibaki’s PNU (which in reality does not have a single MP in the house) is a coalition that exists only by name and is nowhere near assembling its campaign machinery for the forthcoming mini-general elections. Looking at the agenda 1,2,3&4 on the Annan peace roadmap, it really reads like ODM’s 2007 manifesto. DPM and ODM Vice Captain Musalia Mudavadi led the ODM delegation to the Annan talks and the agenda was obviously because of their influence.
It therefore should not surprise any Kenyan that the ODM is behind the moves to create an official opposition in parliament even though its leaders are serving in government as cabinet ministers. The reality is that the opposition will have much more liberty to propagate party policies, oppose legislation umwanted by ODM as well as expose government scandals because ODM cabinet ministers are tied by the draconian oath of collective responsibility in cabinet!
Raila arrived back in the country earlier this week, after a spell in South Africa, where he met with the anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, his wife Graca as well as the leader of Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change, Morgan Tsvangirai. Prior to that, he had been in Germany, where he had undergone laser eye surgery.
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