Tuesday, September 1, 2009




By David Ohito

Agriculture minister William Ruto curiously met President Kibaki’s son Jimmy just hours today’s Orange Democratic Movement’s rescue and face-saving talks.

Away from the glare of cameras, and inside the exquisite Zen Garden Restaurant in Nairobi’s Spring Valley area, Ruto held discussions with Jimmy on Sunday night. The next day Ruto would tell inquisitive journalists he just bumped into the President’s son and, like any responsible leader,could not snub him.

Impeccable sources revealed the meeting ran for at least two hours.

However, the presence of one more guest at the table, Mutito MP Kiema Kilonzo, appeared to betray the fact that someone could have been trying to lure him into Kibaki junior’s ‘Simama Kenya Youth Movement’.

Speculation has been rife that Ruto was being invited to the group that hopes to excite the youths to cause a subtle political revolution just like what swept Mr Barack Obama into White House.

On Monday Ruto said he was ready for today’s meeting of the National Executive committee-cum-Parliamentary Group.

Party leader Raila Odinga similarly expressed confidence all would be well as ODM sits down to discuss such hot issues as Mau Forest Complex, Mr Gitobu Imanyara’s proposed Special Tribunal on post-election violence, and party unity.

News of the Zen Garden meeting spread alongside that of Prime minister in South Nyanza on Monday telling members of his community the minister was not an enemy and attacks against him must stop.

Today’s meeting

The differences between Raila and Ruto, and by extension the MPs coalescing around them will dominate today’s meeting — especially the threat by Rift MPs to jump ship ostensibly because of what they claim is PM’s disrespect for them and their people.

Raila spoke in Muhuri Bay, Rongo and Migori before flying back to Nairobi in readiness for today’s party meeting.

Sources revealed the PM who last week asked MPs on his side to go slow on Ruto sent Public Service minister Dalmas Otieno to Ruto in a bid to reach certain amiable agreements before today’s meeting at Orange House beginning 10 am.

Otieno was expected to meet Ruto either last evening of early today.

Sources also revealed Raila last evening met with the convenors of today’s meeting — ODM chairman Henry Kosgey and party secretary general Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o.

Separate sources said the party might resolve to take a stand on the controversial Special Tribunal to try post election violence suspects after members expressed diverse opinions.

It was not immediately clear if Raila would reverse his controversial threat to Rift MPs that he could bypass them and engage their constituents directly, which triggered claims by Rift MPs that he was undermining them.

Similarly the party could seek to clarify why all its leaders are agreed on relocation of people from the Mau water towers yet in the media they appear to be reading from separate scripts.

"Raila is cunning, when he meets us (Rift MPs) he says a different thing from what he tells Maasai leaders (who want Mau settlers evicted) and this will come up in the meeting," one Kalenjin MP revealed on Monday.

ODM has 20 ministers, 101 elected MPs, six nominated and six from its affiliates — Water Minister Charity Ngilu, Charles Nyamai and Richard Monda of Narc, Assistant minister Richard Onyonka of Peoples’ Development Party (PDP), Sports minister Prof Hellen Sambili of United Democratic Movement (UDM) and Wavinya Ndeti of Chama Cha Uzalendo (CCU).

While the party leader openly supported the Bill privately sponsored by Central Imenti MP, a section of Rift Valley MPs including Ruto have opposed it.

Post-poll healing

Ruto says the handling of grievances arising out of the post-election violence be handled by the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission and advocates for healing across communities while Raila and Cabinet ministers James Orengo (Lands) and Otieno Kajwang’ (Immigration) have said they would support it.

Sources said the party is seeking to have distinct positions where what the PM stands for, as an individual was not misconstrued to mean that was ODM’s position.

The newly elected ODM MPs Mr Justus Kizito (Shinyalu) and Mr Simon Ogari (Bomachoge) will be formally introduced to the top brass.

The party will also do a post-mortem examination of the by-elections and reiterate the importance of unity of the party and how to capitalise on the weaknesses of rivals in the PNU camp.


ODM Chief Whip Jakoyo Midiwo explained that MPs were ready for the meeting where they will tackle issues head-on.

"The mood is okay and we are ready for the meeting. There is no cause for alarm and tension has come down," Jakoyo explained.

Ruto on Monday confirmed that he did meet with Jimmy and Kiema but asked people not to read too much politics into it.

"I bumped into Jimmy and Kiema at a public restaurant and as a leader I did not want to snub them. You can’t run away from people," Ruto said.

"If there was a political motive I would have requested for a meeting at a private place not in a restaurant," he added.

"We exchanged ideas and had a drink as we conversed. Nothing political… there are people you cannot avoid… and contrary to the other reports, ODM as a party, stands on a common position over Mau,’’ said the minister.

Mau saga

"Everyone agrees that Mau has to be conserved. What is still being contested is when and how to go about it," said PM.

At the same time, Raila said he couldn’t comment on the threats by some Rift Valley MPs to abandon ODM if their wishes on the Mau were not met.

"As a father I do not comment on everything my family members say," Raila told elders.

The Simama Kenya cast consist of Cheragany MP Joshua Kutuny (ODM), Kiema Kilonzo (ODM-Kenya, Mutito) and Japheth Kareke (Kanu, Nithi). Others are Kambi Kazungu (PNU, Kaloleni), Adan Keynan (Kanu, Wajir West) and Hassan Abdirahman (Kanu, Wajir South).