, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 12 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Friday gave the strongest hint that he may have held a meeting with Eldoret North MP William Ruto for a possible coalition ahead of the May 4 general election after days of speculation and mixed reactions from the public.
Odinga said he does not understand why meeting anyone should be a “big issue” although he did not admit or deny meeting the United Republican Party (URP) leader who quit the orange party after disagreeing with the premier.
“I hear so much talk of Raila has met who, I don’t know why a meeting should be a big issue. ODM is a national party and we welcome everyone. I will continue meeting with leaders so we build a strong party,” he said while indicating that he saw no reason why a meeting between leaders should create controversy.
News about his alleged meeting has dominated local media since Thursday, prompting Ruto to issue a statement denying the meeting but admitting he was looking for Raila to support his presidential bid.
“I have not met him, but I am looking for him so that he can support my presidential bid,” Ruto announced on Thursday.
On Friday, Raila’s office issued a statement that appeared to hint that a meeting or meetings between the two may have taken place.
Odinga’s office said that ODM as a national party has space for everyone—including those who quit the party.
The statement pointed out Odinga’s willingness to accept defectors back into the party, saying that the doors are still open for them.
He said some of his initiatives that were misunderstood and critisised are beginning to change people’s lives positively.
He cited the efforts to conserve the Mau forest, saying it is beginning to pay-off in a big way.
The conservation of the Mau forest is one of the most contentious issues seen to have separated Ruto from the premier.
The PM said that after about seven years of poor crop, farmers in upper and lower Narok harvested plenty of wheat.
He said the rains have returned and rivers like Mara, Nyangores, Ewaso Ngiro and Lakes Naivasha and Nakuru are overflowing with plenty of water.
“We took the steps to conserve the Mau because we knew it would help Kenyans in general and residents of this region in particular,” he said.
Odinga and Ruto were both members of the ODM’s Pentagon before they parted ways after differences emerged over several issues—including eviction of Mau forest residents.
Ruto has clarified that he did not convene or seek meetings with Raila “but leaders were the ones looking for him”.