ODM party leader Raila Odinga has allayed fears that his unity deal with President Uhuru Kenyatta has weakened the opposition.
As the country marks a year since the March 9 handshake, Mr Odinga said the opposition is still strong, but using new tactics in tackling national issues.
“The opposition is still there. We have just changed tack. A few years back, we used to speak out against corruption but no one listened because they claimed that Raila was being malicious. But now the government is listening,” said Mr Odinga on Thursday.
He said the opposition continues to play a major role in speaking against theft of public resources.
Mr Odinga said the handshake had also enhanced co-operation between the opposition and the government in addressing issues and finding practical solutions.
He added that the unity deal had given him roles in the government, perhaps explaining his meetings with senior officials. On this, he dismissed claims that he had “summoned” CSs on several occasions, saying that the meetings were "just normal invites" to discuss development projects.
“I cannot summon anyone because that would mean I am the boss. But I can invite the CSs to my office to discuss development projects,” he said.
“The President and I agreed that there are responsibilities in which I can assist because I have experience in running government,” Mr Odinga said, adding that his role as the African Union's High Representative for Infrastructure Development in Africa had also increased his engagement with government officials.
On claims that the handshake had divided Jubilee, Mr Odinga said he had not interfered with the party’s affairs.
“I am not a member of Jubilee, so I am only concerned about ODM matters. Jubilee has its internal problems, like any party. The Jubilee MPs should not drag us into their fights,” he said.
Some Jubilee MPs had accused Mr Odinga of using the handshake to scuttle Deputy President William Ruto’s presidential ambitions, with some demanding that President Kenyatta clarify Mr Odinga's "position" in the government.
However, Mr Odinga took issue with the early campaigns, which put the country in an election mood just months after the 2017 General Election.
“Jubilee is yet to deliver on its promises, yet some leaders are talking about the 2022 elections. The President and I agreed to focus on development instead of politicking,” he said.
The ODM leader has previously defended his handshake with the President, saying it was not meant to push the Deputy President out of Jubilee.
He insisted that the pact was to prevent the country from disintegrating after the disputed 2017 elections, which led to his swearing-in as the “people’s president”.
The DP’s allies have expressed reservations about the handshake, questioning Mr Odinga’s honesty in his dealings with the President.
Source: nation media