Mombasa — Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Saturday led a huge Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) rally in Mombasa, the third such meeting since the government embarked on a popularisation mission to ensure the Yusuf Haji-led Taskforce proposals have the support of Kenyans.
"Nobody can stop reggae," Raila declared, when he addressed hundreds of supporters and leaders-including harsh critics of the initiative like Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen who led a handful of Tanga Tanga leaders to the meeting, actualising the saying "if you can't beat them, join them."
The former Prime Minister said "the train has left the station", referring to the initiative born out of his handshake with President Uhuru Kenyatta on March 2018, when they agreed to bury their political differences and unite Kenyans.
"BBI is the future of this country," he said, and urged Kenyans to support it fully.
The ODM leader used the function to also address claims by Deputy President William Ruto in a recent TV interview, where he claimed that he approached him before striking a handshake deal with President Kenyatta.
"I approach him as who," Odinga wondered, "there were only two candidates [in the 2007 presidential election] and you all know them. So he should stop lying to Kenyans."
Organised by proponents of the Building Bridges Initiative, the meeting was the third popularisation tour in the country after Kisii and Kakamega that were skipped by leaders allied to Ruto who is uncomfortable with the political alliance of Raila and President Kenyatta.
While Ruto and leaders loyal to him appear to criticise the initiative, they this week vowed to take part in the meetings, starting with Mombasa where they showed up.
There was brief tension when Murkomen, MPs Mohamed Ali (Nyali), Moses Kuria (Gatundu), Aisha Jumwa (Malindi) and Khatib Mwashetani (Lunga Lunga) made their way to Mama Ngina Water Front-the venue of the politically charged meeting.
It took the intervention of Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho to plead with the chanting crowd to allow the leaders join, as more leaders from both Kieleweke and Tanga Tanga made their way to the meeting.