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‘Handshake is Alive and Running’- Raila Odinga Says Amidst worries That Referendum is Killing the Initiative

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ODM leader Raila Odinga says his March 9 handshake with President Uhuru Kenyatta is alive and well.

“The initiative is alive and running. Your views and actions will be critical to the realization of the objectives of the initiative, especially with regard to strengthening devolution,” Raila said.

In a speech read on his behalf by Kisii Senator Sam Ongeri at the Third Annual Legislative Summit in Mombasa on Thursday, Raila said he and President Kenyatta had identified the fight against corruption and strengthening devolution as key to ensuring the success of the “Building Bridges” initiative.

He told members of county assemblies that a smooth working relationship between the two levels of government and within counties is critical for the country to realise the full benefits of devolution.

The unity deal signed between the two leaders has come into focus due to the growing animosity between Mr Odinga and his allies on the one hand, and Deputy President William Ruto and his allies on the other.

Just last week, President Kenyatta rebuffed Mr Odinga’s call for a referendum to change the Constitution and also alter the structure of the Executive and devolution if their March 9 deal is to succeed.

Raila also told the MCAs to stick to their role which is making laws and oversight, and warned them against taking part in implementing policies, or procuring goods and services.

“A clear separation of roles will work in favour of MCAs, and even senators. It will ensure that each team in the county leadership carries its own cross,” he said in remarks that appeared to oppose the clamour for the ward development fund, which MCAs put up a spirited fight for during the conference.

“It is a fact that lack of clarity in the roles of MCAs and county executives has seen MCAs and senators blamed for failures that should be blamed squarely on county executives.

“Equally, members of the county Executive have been blamed for failures of the county assemblies,” he said.

“You are the leaders on the ground. You live there. You work there. You have no reason not to provide strong and clear leadership that makes your communities pursue a common agenda,” he said.

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