Stage set for Uhuru, Raila building bridges event

Nation

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga’s building bridges initiative is finally set to have its conference at the Bomas of Kenya on September 10.

This is after Treasury intervened following postponement earlier in the month.

Mr Paul Mwangi, the co-secretary from Mr Odinga’s side, confirmed that the team will start with a national conference on corruption, which will run for four days.

There had been fears that delays by the Exchequer to release funds would completely ground activities of the task force seen by allies of Deputy President William Ruto as a threat to his State House ambitions.

The delay in rolling out activities of the Building Bridges Initiative Task Force had seen temporary celebration among those opposed to it, with some senior officials at the Treasury being accused of gatekeeping for some politicians.

The conference will be attended by grassroots leaders, women, youth, elders and the disabled from all the 47 counties, with their transport and accommodation paid for.

On Saturday, Mr Mwangi explained that the 14-member team did not hit the ground running immediately as earlier anticipated because they were still laying the ground, mapping out their scope of work and deciding on the timelines of the activities ahead.

Mr Mwangi suggested that the task force took some time building trust among members before embarking on the real work.

The group – comprising human right activists, politicians and professionals – has demanded that the gesture be extended to governors and legislators to enable them reconcile with their opponents.

However, former Kaloleni MP Gunga Mwinga, a member of the group, observed that elected leaders in the six coastal counties were not keen on embracing their political rivals.

Speaking at Greenwood resort in Mtwapa after a Building Bridges forum, Mr Mwinga said the spirit of the handshake has not yet been felt at the grassroots level.

“We expect the governors of the six counties to sit down with their opponents, talk and agree on how to manage counties since the handshake at the national level has not been felt at the grassroots,” he said.

Elsewhere in Western and Nyanza regions, there have been murmurs that the fruits of the deal are yet to percolate to the ground.

Mr Odinga has however urged patience, saying the proverbial Canaan wouldn’t be reached in a day.

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