Uhuru Kenyatta ignores Raila Odinga during Madaraka fete

NASA presidential candidate Raila Odinga and Chairman National Police Service Commission Johnstone Kavulidi follow proceedings of the 54th Madaraka Day celebration in Kabiruini show ground in Nyeri. (Photo: Maxwell Agwanda, Standard)


NASA presidential candidate Raila Odinga and Chairman National Police Service Commission Johnstone Kavulidi follow proceedings of the 54th Madaraka Day celebration in Kabiruini show ground in Nyeri. (Photo: Maxwell Agwanda, Standard)

Opposition leader Raila Odinga was Thursday snubbed at the 54th Madaraka Day celebrations held at Kabiruini showground in Nyeri County.

Both President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto uncharacteristically failed to acknowledge the National Super Alliance (NASA) presidential candidate.

Donning a navy blue suit and a cowboy hat, Raila sat away from the main dais to the left of Uhuru beside National Police Service Chairman Johnstone Kavuludi.

When the function ended, the two leaders left in the opposite direction without shaking hands with Raila opting to leave using the back exit.

In contrast, during the October 20 Mashujaa Day celebrations held in Machakos last year, while Raila was absent from the fete, his running mate Kalonzo Musyoka was given an opportunity to address the crowd.

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It was expected that Raila would be acknowledged or given an opportunity to make an address but the two leaders stuck to the programme.

Only Nyeri Governor Samuel Wamathai and DP Ruto spoke before he introduced Uhuru.

Selfish ends

But in a politically-charged speech, Uhuru chided the Opposition, asking voters to be wary of leaders who were bent on securing leadership to serve their selfish ends.

“We should always be careful to distinguish between a genuine and legitimate desire for change from its exploitation by short-sighted and cynical leaders who use us for their own selfish ends,” Uhuru said.

But the decision to snub Raila was met with angry reactions by social media users who accused the President and his deputy of going against the values of Madaraka.

Among those who criticized Uhuru and his deputy for snubbing Raila at the fete was a 2013 presidential candidate who said the pair’s decision to ignore Raila was against the spirit of the fete.

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“President Uhuru Kenyatta or his deputy should have, in spirit of a National Day, recognised the presence of Opposition leader Raila Odinga,” Ole Kiyiapi said on Twitter.

@benny_benso tweeted: It’s totally unfair not to recognise Hon Raila at Nyeri. That’s why for Kenya to be united uhuruto must go home. #MadarakaDay.

‏ @Nichiey_Okeyo tweeted: The last time Raila was in Nyeri, he was the only person Kenyans celebrated n no way jubilee was going to allow him for the same #MadarakaDay.

@Phil_MikeMwangi posted on Twitter: If I were Uhuru, I would have fired and whipped all the organisers of today’s #MadarakaDay. It’s a major embarrassment. Nonsense!!!

On Facebook, Peter Kiragu posted: Mbona sioni Raila. Ama ni hii TV yangu???

Tony Malesi posted: Looks like Joshua was invited to Madaraka Day celebrations in Nyeri to be humiliated. None of the speakers seems to acknowledge his presence, starting with DP who refused to greet him. It’s, indeed, tough being Raila.

David Ochola posted: Why did The 5th President of Kenya attend that cultural event in Nyeri? Those planning Babas’ itinerary need to style up.

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Additional reporting by James Wanzala

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