I won’t endorse any former NASA leader, says Raila

POLITICS
By Kepher Otieno and James Omoro | February 21st 2021

ODM leader Raila Odinga [Collins Oduor, Standard]

ODM leader Raila Odinga has ruled out supporting any of his former National Super Alliance (NASA) colleagues for the presidency even as he hinted at a new coalition ahead of next year’s General Election.

Raila accused the former NASA leaders of abandoning him at the hour of need during his swearing-in as the People’s President after the disputed 2017 repeat presidential elections.

“When we were going for the swearing-in, in Nairobi they refused. They switched off their phones and they were shivering due to fear. They now want me to give them the mantle by supporting them,” he said.

He added: “Can I give them the mantle? I won’t give them because they demonstrated their cowardice.”

None of the NASA co-principals turned up to witness Raila ‘taking an oath’ at Uhuru Park in the event that attracted a mammoth crowd.

Speaking yesterday during a burial in Ndiwa, Homa Bay County, Raila dismissed the push by Musalia, Kalonzo and Wetang’ula for his blessings to vie for the presidency.

Raila, who together with President Uhuru Kenyatta are the architects of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), said they were currently preoccupied with constitutional review agenda and that presidential politics should be shelved until 2022.

BBI discourse

“We are busy now with the BBI discourse. The road ahead is still rough and murky and so we don’t need to bog Kenyans’ mind with 2022 politics,’’ said Raila.

Raila was hopeful that more than 24 county assemblies would have endorsed the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020, by Tuesday to enable it proceed to Parliament. Some 11 assemblies have already passed the Bill.

At least 24 county assemblies are required to pass the Bill before it proceeds to the National Assembly and the Senate.

Yesterday, an upbeat Raila said the BBI train was unstoppable and that the referendum could be held by June.

Raila also took issue with Deputy President William Ruto for dragging him into Jubilee government failures.

He spoke as a new alliance bringing together Musalia, Kalonzo, Wetang’ula and Kanu chairman Gideon Moi is in the offing ahead of the next polls.

The four have, however, not indicated whom they will front for the presidency.

Raila recalled how he “boldly and courageously” made his way to Uhuru Park where he was crowned as the ‘People’s President”

This follows calls by former Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi and Ford Kenya boss Moses Wetang’ula for Raila to rally behind one of them for the top seat.

He claimed his team mates in NASA abandoned him at the eleventh hour.

The Musalia team has asked Raila to back one of them for presidency, saying they have stood with him over the years and time was ripe for payback.

And speaking yesterday at the burial of former Homa Bay County Council Clerk Origa Opiyo at Ratang’a village, Raila urged Kenyans to support the BBI. “We expect at least 24 counties this coming Tuesday to ratify the BBI Bill so that we move to the next stage in Parliament,” Raila said.

Raila expressed joy that BBI proponents will meet the legal threshold, and declared that whether Parliament passes the Bill or not, its proponents will not be bothered.

Ultimately, he told Kenyans it is their opinion or say that will count when the BBI Bill will be subjected to the referendum.

Homa Bay Governor Cyprian Awiti, Woman Representative Gladys Wanga, Rangwe MP Lilian Gogo, Kasipul MP Ongondo Were, Homa Bay governorship hopeful Dr Evans Kidero, Luois Otieno, Oyugi Magwanga, MCAs and local leaders were present. The leaders urged Kenyans to back BBI.

At another burial in Gem, Siaya, Raila told Ruto to carry his own cross and stop looking for political scapegoats over his tribulations in the ruling party.

Senate Minority Leader James Orengo and his National Assembly counterpart John Mbadi asked Kenyans not to fall prey to BBI critics.

Orengo faulted Ruto’s brand of tokenism politics while Wanga asked allies of DP to declare their final position on BBI.

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