Raila Odinga has for a long time been seen by The Mt Kenya Nation as a thorn in the flesh of the region and its interests.
His father, Oginga Jaramogi, was always regarded as the face of the opposition to founding President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta.
It didn’t help much that Mzee Kenyatta and Mzee Odinga did not invest a lot in diffusing the tension and mistrust that has historically played out at every opportune moment.
Fast forward to President Mwai Kibaki and President Uhuru Kenyatta’s reign. Raila is seen as the person who got into bed with Kibaki and while there imploded the house.
Uhuru’s case is worse in view of the ICC case that Raila was accused of orchestrating. Raila was accused of being behind the Uhuru and William Ruto cases at The Hague.
Central Kenya voters have largely been mobilised to register and vote in large numbers around the fear of a Raila presidency. Mt Kenya votes so that they can enjoy a good business environment.
They are also huge investors in land and the property. Raila has been accused by Central leaders of inciting other communities not to allow Kikuyus to buy their land. This image is one Raila has been unable to shed.
The handshake has fundamentally reduced the suspicion. There was a lot of excitement, equal only to the feeling when Raila abandoned Moi and joined Kibaki in 2002.
However, there’s a feeling in the region that this new Raila-Uhuru partnership is forged at the expense of DP Ruto.
During the campaign, Central leaders have been quick to remind supporters to be wary of Raila, and this has not helped much.
It will not be easy for Raila to get Central Kenya votes, if to do so is at the expense of William Ruto.
That said, it will be extremely hard for the DP to mobilise the region to vote when Raila is all friendly. This can result in voter apathy that can only benefit Raila.
The referendum talk fronted by Raila is another reason trust is waning. The talk in the region is that this is purely a ploy by Raila to get leadership through the back door.
Raila should have waited for the cohesion team to make recommendations before going full throttle to support a Parliamentary system of government.
As long as the DP and the President are seen to be working together, Ruto stands the best chance of getting support from Mt Kenya.