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Raila surprise inspection as Kisumu prepares for Uhuru visit :: Kenya

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African Union envoy Raila Odinga at the Kisumu International Airport on December 6 ahead of the launch of Universal Health Coverage. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

African Union’s special envoy Raila Odinga attended a series of meetings in Kisumu as the town prepared to host President Uhuru Kenyatta.

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The High Representative for Infrastructure Development in Africa and also the ODM party leader, landed at the Kisumu International Airport and was received by area deputy governor Mathews Owili and several MCAs, among them Leader of Majority Ken Onyango.

Ruth Odinga, Raila’s sister, who serves as director of special programmes in the county government, was also at hand to receive her brother.

Traditional Nyatiti dancers were present to entertain the former Prime Minister and his entourage.

Friendship launched

Raila spent most of his time in meetings in Kisumu town and in Bondo. The President is expected to visit Raila’s home in Bondo as a sign of their new-found friendship launched by their handshake at Harambee House in Nairobi.

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The President will be in Kisumu on December 13 to launch the Universal Health Care. Sources in Raila’s office said Uhuru might extend the visit to Kango Ka Jaramogi in Sakwa, where Raila’s father and the country’s first Vice President Jaramogi Oginga Odinga was buried in 1994.

Raila kept off the public and journalists. His supporters have often swarmed him whenever he visits the region, but that was not the case yesterday. He also visited his private home on Riat Hills, where he held a closed-door meeting with local leaders.

There were reports that Raila might host senior State officials at the home next week.

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Uhuru’s next visit to Kisumu will be the first since last year’s divisive General Election that was marked by violence and bloodshed after he controversially won a second term.

It will also be Uhuru’s first visit since his historic reconciliation with Raila, that ended the political hostilities.

During the March 9 handshake, Uhuru and Raila promised to work together to ensure peace in the country. They also promised to tour the whole country, together, to preach peace.

They have so far made joint appearances at public meetings in Central Kenya and Nairobi.

Besides Raila’s visit, security is building up in the town and especially at the airport, Kenyatta Sports Ground and State House ahead of the President’s tour.

Last week, First Lady Margaret Kenyatta was in Kisumu to launch several health programmes joined by local leaders.

Raila’s security team did not allow journalists to interview him. The ODM leader did not even drive through the town as he often does.

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Private meetings

“Sorry, Jakom cannot speak to you today. He is busy in private meetings,” an aide said.

The Standard established that Raila was also preparing to receive a honorary doctorate degree from Jaramogi University of Science and Technology in Bondo next week.

There were reports that several State officials would attend the ceremony.

The university’s Vice Chancellor Stephen Agong’ said they would be honouring Raila for his contribution to Kenya and Africa. The university has alwritten to Raila asking him to attend its graduation ceremony slated for December 14.

Meanwhile, security chiefs have been in meetings to strategise how to secure Kisumu during Uhuru’s tour.

Preparations to host the President are in top gear with major city roads and pavements being repaired. Some buildings are being repainted.

Yesterday, old cabro paving blocks on Oginga Odinga street and Jomo Kenyatta highway were being replaced.

Similar preparations were also going on at Kisumu State Lodge, with deployment of more security officers at the facility.

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On Monday, Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o attended a security meeting organised by State House in Nairobi.

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