Surprise as Raila ditches Luo MPs

In a dramatic turn of events, Raila Odinga has decided to ditch Luo MPs in an effort to discard the tribal tag that his opponents have been using against him.

Last weekend, most Luo MPs were snubbed by Raila and they did not attend a high level fund raising dinner for the Orange Democratic Movement. Insiders indicated that Raila decided to ditch his foot soldiers after being accused of being a tribal chieftain as opposed to being the nationalist that he wants Kenyans to believe he is.

 Unlike in the past, most Luo MPs have been avoiding Raila's meetings after he openly told them that he was not interested in having court jesters from only one tribe. Raila appeared to be following the advice of Luo Council of Elders chairmen Ker Riaga Ogallo, who has expressed concerns that some Luo MPs are more of a liability than an asset to the ODM presidential hopeful.

Raila wants to create the image of a nationalist in order to impress Kenyans that he is presidential material ahead of the General elections, which are expected in December this year.

"We want to show Kenyans that Raila is an all-inclusive leader and not a Luo chieftain," said Mzee Ogalo.

According to the Ker (elder), many Nyanza MPs have been relying on Raila not only in monetary terms but also for political patronage which the LDP leader feels has been pushed a bit too far. The likes of Otieno Kajwang and company have been milking Raila for all he is worth and he has discovered that they are a burden in his mission to become president of the country, our sources say.

"They know that without Raila's blessing, the will not even make it to parliament," says one Nyanza MP. " He is now tired of marketing other people and he wants to market himself."

In his quest to be president, Raila has changed political tact and is out to endear himself among all Kenyans. Raila is marketing himself as a non-vengeful, non-tribal and just leader, and he does not want to carry the burden of marketing MPs in his homeland.

The MPs are not happy with the manner in which Raila has been hobnobbing with parliamentary aspirants from Nyanza, our sources indicate. Many Nyanza MPs face an uphill task to retaining their seats in the coming parliament as they have been accused of not performing. Luos have expressed discomfort with the region's current leadership and most MPs from the area are not expected to make it to the next parliament.

"The people do not want them, they are tired of supporting fellows whose only claim to fame is being Raila's supporters," says one MP from the region.

Raila has the same feelings too, and he is not hiding them from the said MPs. He has told them to do their marketing for themselves and his desire for the best candidate to win in parliamentary elections has not endeared him to them.

Contrary to beliefs that Luo MPs have been financing Raila to win parliamentary seats, investigations reveal that even those who were allegedly rigged in by Odinga during the 2002 elections are the same people who depend on him for transport, food and accommodation whenever they attend a function which has proved expensive for Odinga.

They would want, of course, that Raila declares them "tosha" as this will mean that they will sail into parliament smoothly. But Raila is having none of it. He is trying to project himself as a national leader just like Mwai Kibaki, who has given little favour to his Central province and Nyeri backyards.

According to impeccable sources, Raila has put up a campaign team made up of professionals, clergy, businessmen and parliamentary aspirants to coordinate his campaigns in Luo Nyanza and to fundraise for his presidential bid.

Those who have been closely monitoring Raila's political moves must have noticed that whenever he addresses a rally out of Luo Nyanza, he tries to avoid Luo MPs in his company but prefers to be accompanied by youthful and brilliant aspirants.

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