Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara who has been on the spotlight after he joined Friends of Raila (Fora) on Monday to deputise Prime Minister Raila Odinga as the patron, is no ordinary politician.
A politician, a human rights lawyer, and a journalist all roped in one; the 58-year-old Imanyara has been part and parcel of the country’s reform crusade dating back in late 1980s. Observers say his entry into the Raila team points to a presidential bid anchored on a ‘reform platform’.
|Prime Minister Raila Odinga (left) and Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara. [PHOTO: FILE/STANDARD]|
And so what value can Imanyara add to a Raila presidential ticket, if he comes in as a running mate?
The MP made it clear during the launch that he supports Raila’s presidential bid, but had not abandoned his Chama Cha Mzalendo party for ODM, meaning he could be toiling with the idea of forming an alliance with the Orange party as a corporate member.
“We will not allow forces of opportunism and backwardness to take over the country. These people have only one agenda – to block the Prime Minister and nothing else,” Imanyara said during the Fora fete.
Head of Political Science and Public Administration at the University of Nairobi, Adams Oloo, says Imanyara could add value to the Raila presidency from two perspectives: One by whipping up the Meru vote, and second winning those supportive of comprehensive reforms under the new Constitution.
“Over the years, he has distinguished himself as a champion of reforms and in some way he has outgrown the Meru constituency. He basically suits the ‘reformist ticket’ if by any chance he was to team up with Raila,” added Oloo.
Kenya School of Law lecturer, lawyer Martin Oloo also concurs with Adams saying there are all indications Raila wants a reformist campaign platform.
“Seemingly in Raila’s scheming, the coming election could bring together second liberation players to push for the country’s final liberation,” added Martin.
Indeed, Raila had pointed out his relationship with Imanyara dates back a long time when they were pushing for multiparty democracy.
“Imanyara was also a jailbird. He was jailed for his efforts to bring change. Because of that, he has also been recognised internationally,” the PM said.
Fora Secretary General Eliud Owalo concurs that Imanyara has attractive reform credentials, but says it’s upon the PM and the ODM organs to decide who becomes his running mate because there are many options in the party.