Forget opposition, Raila tells Nyanza
Published on May 12, 2008, 12:00 am
By John Oywa And George Olwenya
A day after hundreds of ODM supporters expressed disaffection with the Grand Coalition Government, Prime Minister Raila Odinga moved to assure his political supporters in his Bondo hometown that all was well.
Raila, who seemed keen to stamp his authority over the matter, told his supporters time had come for them to change their attitude and realise that they were now in Government and not in the traditional opposition they have been used to. In one of the strongest messages ever to the ODM fraternity since the last General Election, the Prime Minister said the Coalition was “inevitable”.
|Prime Minister Raila Odinga after he was installed as a Luo leader during his homecoming ceremony at Bondo Teachers’ Training College, on Sunday.|
He said he opted to share power with President Kibaki to save the country from anarchy.
“I did it for the sake of this country. People were dying and our country was disintegrating. I had to swallow my pride,” said the PM.
He added: “I don’t want you to panic about the future. After all, it is a tactical retreat because we have a long way to go. Kindly change your attitude and feel part of this Government.”
Unlike on Saturday when his supporters murmured in disapproval when he talked about the power-sharing deal at a rally in Kisumu, on Sunday the crowd cheered him on.
The Lang’ata MP, who is also the ODM leader, said his party’s decision to drop its demands during the coalition negotiations was not a sign of weakness.
“He who surrenders lives to fight another day. You can make two steps forward, one backward and advance,” he told the multitude that had gathered for his homecoming party.
Crowned Luo elder
Raila was speaking at the Bondo Teachers Training College, during the final leg of his elaborate homecoming party that began in Kisumu on Saturday.
The event was scheduled to end today when he visits Western Province at a thanksgiving service for Funyula MP, Dr Paul Otuoma, who is also the Fisheries minister.
In Bondo, Raila was made a Luo leader by a team of elders from his Sakwa clan who presented him with two spears, a monkey skin and headgear, a traditional stool and a shield.
He told the Luo community to forget the past and support the new Government.
“I accepted to discuss peace because I no longer wanted to see people being killed during the post-election violence. We must know that there is only one Kenya. Even the colonialists fought and arrested our people, but they are our friends today,” he added.
|Konaini Dancers entertain guests at the ceremony.|
Speaking in parables, the PM said some politicians even suggested that the country be divided at the height of the violence.
“We realised that some people wanted us to divide the country, but I opted for peace. It reminded me of a biblical story where two women where fighting over a child and the one who was not the mother suggested that it be cut into two,” Raila said.
He said he was happy with ministerial portfolios given to his party and assured Kenyans that the Government would deliver services as promised during campaigns.
He criticised ODM backbenchers pushing for a Grand Opposition in Parliament, saying the move would weaken the party. He urged the MPs to criticise the Government from within the coalition.
“It is not bad to criticise the Government. Even I criticse the Government, but forming the Opposition in Parliament will rob us of the majority we are enjoying,” said Raila
Earlier, Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Musalia Mudavadi, said Raila would attend ODM campaigns for next month’s by-elections despite Opposition from some PNU leaders.
He was referring to statements by Assistant minister, Mr Danson Mungatana, who said President Kibaki and Raila should keep off the campaigns to help foster unity.
Mudavadi said although Raila was the PM, he cannot divorce himself from ODM.
“We are in a grand coalition, but there is no law barring Raila from supporting his party,” said Mudavadi, adding that the party needed to win all the five parliamentary and 52 civic seats to maintain its majority in the House.
Ministers who spoke at the function said ODM was already strategising for the 2012 elections.
They included Mr Henry Kosgey, Dr Paul Otuoma, Mr Otieno Kajwang’, Mr Chris Obure, Mr Dalmas Otieno, Mr Kipkalya Kones, Prof Anyang’ Ngong’o, Mr Wycliffe Oparanya, Prof Hellen Sambili, Mr James Orengo and Mr Fred Gumo.
Kosgey said the party was eyeing nothing short of State House.
“We are just having a stopover, the journey will have to end at State House. We promised our people that we shall deliver them to Canaan. We must do it,” said Kosgey.
The Industrialisation minister also said Kalenjin MPs were fully in ODM contrary to reports that some were contemplating quitting the party.
Orengo said ODM was fully in charge of Government operations because it has the majority in Parliament.
“We have the majority of MPs and nothing can pass in Parliament without our consent,” said the Lands minister.
Nyong’o said the Government would unveil a new constitution this year and called for patience.
Oparanya said Western Province was behind Raila, and asked MPs not appointed to the Cabinet to support the coalition.
Gumo caused laughter when he demanded that Raila be allocated a special public address system similar to that used by President Kibaki and the Vice-President, Mr Kalonzo Musyoka. This was after several sound hitches at the Bondo rally.
Said Gumo: “The PM is a big man and cannot continue using third rate public address systems hired from local musicians. I’m asking the Minister for Information to ensure that Raila gets a new PA system as soon as possible.”
Former Juja MP, Mr William Kabogo, made a surprise appearance at the rally and was given a chance to address the gathering, where he said he was robbed of victory and would now back ODM.