, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 20 – Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi has downplayed the weekend rift that arose at a dinner held in honour of visiting Uganda President Yoweri Museveni at the Bondo home of Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
Fielding questions from journalists on Monday, Mudavadi said the meeting revolved around national issues and not intrigues that have been rocking the party after he launched a fierce campaign for the ODM presidential ticket.
“There is no rift in ODM… this is a competitive process. In Bondo, there was a dinner for a visiting Head of State and it went very well in terms of discussing Kenya issues and at no time would you want to engage a Head of State on matters that are outside that purview,” he said.
Mudavadi’s Press Secretary Kibisu Kabatesi on Sunday accused the PM’s spokesman Dennis Onyango of sending a dispatch to media houses which, he claimed, insinuated that the deputy PM attended the dinner as an ODM member and that President Museveni attempted to mediate between the two.
The two ODM leaders have in recent weeks differed on the mode of conducting party presidential nominations.
But when approached on the issue, the Prime Minister preferred not to be dragged into the debate. He referred the media to his spokesman saying, “He is here, ask him to clarify (the contradictory statements).”
In what has been termed ‘the battle of the spin doctors’, the press secretaries sent contradicting statements to newsrooms over the events of the Saturday night event with the PM’s Press Service releasing photos showing the two leaders sharing a hearty laugh and a sumptuous meal during the dinner hosted for visiting Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni at Premier’s Bondo residence.
In his dispatch, the PM’s spokesman said the jovial talk between Mudavadi and Odinga “left a strong impression that the two leaders may be following each other’s campaigns closely and the talk of tension between them may be a misunderstanding of their plans.”
But, in a rejoinder Kabatesi accused Odinga’s press team of attempting to throw a spin on the dinner event.
He said Onyango’s statement insinuated other motives other than what the meeting was about – just dinner.