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Azimio Opens an office at a site whose owner ejected Raila in 2007.

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Azimio Opens an office at a site whose owner ejected Raila in 2007.

A team campaigning for Azimio la Umoja One Kenya presidential candidate Raila Odinga in Mathira constituency has opened an office in a building owned by a Karatina businesswoman who in 2007 forcibly ejected Mr Odinga and his entourage from her hotel.

Ms Lucy Weru hit national headlines when she flushed out Mr Odinga from her hotel in the run-up to the 2007 General Election in which former President Mwai Kibaki was seeking re-election and was facing a serious challenge from Mr Odinga. Her daughter is married to one of the sons of the late President.

Mathira constituency is the political backyard of Deputy President William Ruto’s running mate Rigathi Gachagua. Pundits posit that the mere opening of the Azimio office is a major political statement to the Kenya Kwanza brigade that their rivals are making significant inroads in Central Kenya.

They also point out that it is a symbolic change of heart among many residents in the region regarding Mr Oding’a candidacy.

In the incident 14 years ago, Mr Odinga and an entourage of ODM officials were thrown out of the then Karatina tourist lodge that was later converted into a supermarket minutes after checking in for lunch.

On August 20, 2007, at around 3 pm, Mr Odinga, the late Mr Joseph Nyaga, then Makadara MP Reuben Ndolo, Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) secretary-general Mumbi Ng’aru and scores of party officials from various parts of central Kenya entered the hotel.

Stormed the dining room

They had earlier attended the burial of Mathira constituency LDP branch chairman Peterson Kaburu in Mwanda village, three kilometres from Karatina.

But as soon as they made their orders, drama unfolded when Ms Weru stormed the dining room and ordered them to leave.

She started screaming and shouting. “Who brought you here? We do not want ODM here. Can you please leave now? We do not want your money,” she said as Ms Nga’ru unsuccessfully pleaded with her to let them leave in peace.

Last year, while addressing residents of Nyeri County at the Kabiruini grounds, Mr Odinga recalled the incident, saying he had forgiven the woman and that he had agreed with his allies to have a cup of tea with her.

“There was a time I was kicked out of a hotel in Karatina but I forgave that lady. Now we have agreed that I will have a cup of tea at her home. We want to see Kenyans more united than ever,” he said.
During an interview in her office on Wednesday, Ms Weru said she had no personal grudge against Mr Odinga and had no problem sharing a cup of tea with him.

Ms Weru disclosed that Mr Odinga called her recently and both had a “very friendly” conversation on various issues currently affecting the country.

“I was in my living room recently when my phone rang and my nephew informed me that Raila was on the other end of the line. We engaged in a friendly conversation that lasted several minutes,” she said.

No personal vendetta

“I hold no grudge against Raila and I would not hesitate to have a session with him. I have no personal vendetta. I know him as a person with a big heart who loves this country and I will meet him at an opportune time.”

Mr Odinga performed dismally in the Mr Kenya region in the 2007, 2013 and 2017 elections. Could Ms Weru’s “endorsement” mean he is now acceptable to the larger Kibaki family?

Another close relative of the family, Laikipia Governor Ndiritu Muriithi, a nephew of Kibaki, is in the front line in Mr Odinga’s fifth stab at the presidency as the Azimio campaign board chairman.

Mr Patrick Macheru, the secretary of the Azimio Mathira Grassroots Initiative (AMGI) lobby group, said the opening of the office indicated that voters in Mt Kenya are embracing Mr Odinga’s candidacy unlike before.

“This is a clear signal that our people are softening their hearts towards Baba and the mountain is becoming easier to climb,” he said.

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