14 March 2018

Kenya: Take Advantage of Kenyatta Deal, Odinga Tells Opposition MPs

ODM leader Raila Odinga has sought the support of his party MPs in endorsing last Friday's meeting with President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Mr Odinga urged the MPs not to be distracted by those positioning themselves for the 2022 General Election.

He told the party's Parliamentary Group that the meeting held at the Office of the President at Harambee House last Friday was a consequence of the events of January 30 in which he was sworn in as the people's president.

He urged them to take full advantage of the deal to ensure national dialogue takes root.

"You should support national dialogue because it is a product of our swearing in," Mr Odinga said during the meeting at Orange House yesterday.

Jibe at co-principals

JIBE

And in what appeared to be a jibe aimed at his co-principals in the Nasa coalition, Mr Odinga said: "It is the swearing-in that yielded the efforts towards national dialogue. Where were you on January 30 before you start asking us questions?"

He told the MPs that a change of tack was important if the party was to make maximum gain in future political contests.

"We are going nowhere if we engage in the kind of antagonism that we have been engaged in the last five years. We shall miss a lot and we may not be effective in our push for reforms because we shall be talking at each other instead of to each other."

Mr Odinga spoke even as tension within Opposition spilt to the floor of the National Assembly when members of the Nasa affiliates fought over seats reserved for House leaders.

MOTION DRAFTED

To show commitment for the meeting between President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga, the party has drafted a motion seeking the support of the two Houses of Parliament to adopt a nine-point agenda the two leaders agreed on after their meeting last Friday.

The notice of the motion is expected to be issued in the National Assembly this morning, with Minority Leader John Mbadi set to move it once it comes for debate either later in the afternoon or tomorrow.

The ODM PG meeting comes just a day after Nasa's highest decision-making organ, the Summit, met on Monday and agreed each party in the coalition should decide whether or not to cooperate with Jubilee.

Mr Odinga told the MPs that he had also briefed his co-principals in the coalition who, he claimed, had agreed to support the push towards national dialogue.

However, this appeared to contradict the final statement issued by the Summit after the meeting in Stoni Athi Resort on Monday, with ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi saying the issues raised by Mr Odinga were weighty and required the endorsement of all the affiliates of Nasa.

In the media briefing after the ODM PG Tuesday, the party asked Mr Odinga to stay focused on the bigger picture and the struggle for a "better, just, inclusive and fair Kenya" and refuse to be distracted by those positioning themselves for the 2022 general election.

"The members encouraged the party leader to use this engagement to seek justice for the victims of post-election violence as a way to finding a lasting reconciliation and unite the nation," the MPs said in a statement read by National Assembly Minority Whip Junet Mohammed.

However, on the floor of the National Assembly, a Wiper MP sought to pass a message by taking the seat reserved for the Minority Leader.

SPOTTED

Mr Patrick Makau (Mavoko, Wiper) was immediately spotted by Majority Leader Aden Duale, who notified Speaker Justin Muturi.

Mr Makau was asked to vacate the seat but remained defiant, prompting the Speaker to ask the seargents-at-arms to see him out. Before the orderlies could eject him, Mr Makau walked out.

He later explained his defiance: "Mbadi belongs to ODM and Mr Odinga has gone to government. We are the official Opposition. Had the Speaker allowed me to speak I would have told him the truth. I wanted to explain."

Minority Whip Junet Mohammed also found his seat occupied by Ms Beatrice Adagala (Vihiga Woman Rep, ANC) and when Mr Duale once again notified the Speaker, the 'illegal occupant' was asked to vacate the seat.

After an exchange with Mr Mohammed, Ms Adagala left the seat. Mr Mohammed later said: "Some people who want to continue calling for resistance don't know what they are doing. We are the champions of resistance. We own it," he said.

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