NASA flagbearer Raila Odinga and five other presidential candidates yesterday skipped the Uhuru Park peace prayers ahead of the August 8 General Election.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and his two competitors Ekuru Aukot (Third Way Alliance) and Michael Wainaina (independent) were the only candidates present at the event organised by the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya attended by a handful of people.
Raila on Tuesday confirmed to the press at NASA’s Okoa Kenya offices in Nairobi that he would attend the Uhuru Park prayers with his co-principals before proceeding for a Saba Saba rally at Kamukunji Grounds late in the afternoon.
“Time for change has come and is now. This is a peaceful revolution. August 8 will be the beginning. Friday, July 7 we will hold Saba Saba prayers at Uhuru Park and thereafter hold a rally at Kamukunji Grounds then wait for August 8 when Kenyans will have a date with Jubilee,” Raila said. Saba Saba is commemorated in remembrance of gallant Kenyans who fought for the realisation of multipartism in the country starting in the early 1990s.
However, yesterday a press statement to media houses from the NASA presidential campaign committee indicated that Raila and his team had convened their own prayer meeting.
“The NASA presidential candidate and his co-principals will take part in a prayer service today [yesterday] at the Okoa Kenya offices ahead of the Saba Saba rally at Kamukunji,” read a statement by NASA presidential campaign communication director Kathleen Openda.
Efforts by the Star to get a comment from the NASA presidential campaign team on why the principals decided to give the clergies’ prayer meeting a wide berth at the last-minute were futile since no one responded to phone calls. Deliverance Churches of Kenya Bishop Mark Kariuki presided over the Uhuru Park prayers where the three presidential candidates and Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero pledged to promote peace.
Uhuru in reciting a peace declaration said, “I being a Kenyan citizen do hereby pledge to be a peaceful person, to promote and maintain peace during the campaigns, the elections and after the elections. I will use all the power at my disposal to ensure that true peace reigns in this nation. Help me God to fulfill this solemn vow.”
The crowd, mostly NASA supporters, chanted their coalition’s slogans.