Raila Odinga angered by ODM members criticising handshake developments

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The projects being initiated by the government in parts of Nyanza have split Western and Coast politicians.

Some MPs are accusing ODM leader Raila Odinga of using his handshake deal with President Uhuru Kenyatta to sideline the two regions. The MPs include allies of DP William Ruto and others from ODM.

Mr Odinga’s lieutenants in the two regions have however come to his defence, saying the entire country is gaining from the handshake.

Mumias East MP Benjamin Washiali, his Matungu counterpart Justus Murunga, and former Kakamega senator Boni Khalwale last week accused Mr Odinga of using his influence to concentrate projects in his Nyanza backyard while ignoring the rest of western Kenya.

“Raila no longer values western where he claims to be the 13th grandson of Wanga King Nabongo Mumia,” Dr Khalwale said.

The three cited the planned revival of kisumu port which will be commissioned by Mr Kenyatta this week. Other projects include the oil jetty and the standard gauge railway.

Also on course is the revival of Kicomi factory and the launch of a socio-economic zone in Kisumu.

TENSION

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MPs allied to Mr Ruto demanded that Mr Odinga uses his camaraderie with the President to revive Mumias Sugar Company.

Other projects the lawmakers want the government to fix include the expansion and upgrade of Kakamega Airstrip and the tarmacking of roads.

During an event in Matungu, Dr Khalwale said other regions are not getting anything from the handshake.

At the Coast, Kinango MP Benjamin Tayari (ODM) said the handshake has not helped the region. He added that Coast leaders should unite and push for the region’s agenda.

Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa also criticised the handshake, saying it has only divided the region. “I was among those who supported the handshake, but I discovered that it was not for unity. When I decided to back the DP, I was expelled from the party,” she said.

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Kaloleni MP Paul Katana supported Ms Jumwa’s sentiments, saying the handshake had caused more political tension at the Coast and divided the political leadership.

“However, we have realised that as leaders, our unity of purpose must continue to be upheld even though we might have different political ambitions and affiliations,” he said.

ODM secretary-general Edwin Sifuna and national chairman John Mbadi told off Odinga critics and challenged them to seek Mr Ruto’s help in delivering projects to the region.

“They have been moving around claiming Ruto brings development. Why can’t they ask him to bring it to western? Raila is not in government but Ruto is,” Mr Sifuna said.

Revitalisation of the Kisumu port is among key economic projects that have been spearheaded by Mr Odinga and President Kenyatta following their handshake.

Budalang’i MP Raphael Wanjala said the Jubilee MPs should stop misleading residents of western region about the projects being initiated by the government in Nyanza, including the Kisumu port which, he said, will have a huge impact on the economy of western region.

He said the government also plans to modernise Port Victoria in Busia County as part of the efforts to revitalise the blue economy.

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