By Andrew Teyie
Lang’ata MP Mr Raila Odinga has dismissed claims that he duped his colleagues to attend the London meeting choreographed to endorse him as ODM-Kenya flag bearer.
Speaking at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) on arrival from London, Raila discounted claims that the meeting was meant to boost his presidential campaign by conferring him the “ Raila Tosha” status.
“This was not part of my trip. So how could it have been planned to say Raila Tosha. Nothing could be more far fetched,” said Raila.
“I did not organise the London trip. I was in USA, when I was commanded to go to London. I was told arrangements had been made for presidential candidates to travel to London… that all other candidates had confirmed,” said Raila.
“That is why I changed my travel arrangements. I would have been here three days ago,” said Raila.
The team that disowned the London talks, ostensibly because it had wrongly been tagged a begging mission and a Tosha session were Kanu chairman Uhuru Kenyatta, Mwingi North MP Kalonzo Musyoka, Eldoret North MP William Ruto, Mvita MP Najib Balala, Nominated MP Julia Ojiambo and ODM-Kenya chairman Henry Kosgey.
He said Kenyans in London were disappointed by presidential aspirants’ failure to attend the meeting and refuted claims that other presidential aspirants had isolated him.
“How can I be isolated from these people around me? I do not think that isolation is the word you want to use. I feel very much part and parcel of a team,” stated Raila.
He said he was part of the team to liberate Kenya from poor leadership and wondered why some people want to reduce ODM-K presidential nomination race between him and Mr Kalonzo Musyoka.
“This is a contest. In a campaign people use different tactics to win. So long as they fit in acceptable standards of conduct there is nothing wrong with it,” said Raila.
“It’s a healthy democratic process. In the end one person will win the nomination. Those are tactics by other people. ODM-K will remain united,” said Raila.
Raila said his trip took him to Far East, US, before winding up in London.
He said the London meeting was well attended by UK businessmen and Kenyans.
“The dinner was between UK pounds 1,000 to UK pounds 1,500. People were paying UK pounds 1,000 to sit at a table with ODM-K presidential candidates,” said Raila.
On Sunday Raila has asked individuals who are not ready to work with others in ODM-Kenya to quit, deepening the anxiety engulfing the party.
Privately there have been unflattering words flying in all directions among the party big wigs, some claiming, and which Raila strongly denies, that the talks were ‘exhibitionist’ vehicle.
Last week, ODM presidential hopeful Musalia Mudavadi said the party would be meeting to patch up the differences sparked by the falling out over the trip.
It has been widely reported that ODM-Kenya’s problems appear anchored on presidential ambitions of Kalonzo and Raila, both of whom for different reasons believe they should be given the ticket.
Kalonzo because he has led the party’s brood in opinion polls, and Raila because of his dominant and martyr image in terms of the torturous years he has waded through in second and third liberations.
In a candid interview on Saturday, Ruto said his party’s problems begin and end with personality clashes between Raila and Kalonzo, which he said are "getting serious."
By Andrew Teyie