Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leaders have revived Raila Odinga’s 2022 presidential bid debate, saying he remains their best bet for the top seat.
They told those writing off Raila to do so at their own peril, insisting the Nasa leader, who has kept off President Uhuru Kenyatta’s succession talks, was still fit to lead the country.
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Raila’s elder brother Oburu Oginga and Senate Minority Leader James Orengo said Raila remained their best bet.
Dr Oburu said his brother was still politically flamboyant, in high spirits and full of vigour to contest for the presidency one more time.
“I want to tell those who are trying to overlook Raila that they should not write him off. Raila is politically dynamic and more re-energised and focused,” said the East Africa Legislative Assembly (EALA) member.
He said he was surprised that some ODM legislators were torn between sticking with Raila or switching allegiances to others.
“Those who are casting aspersions about Raila should know that he is not politically fatigued as they think. Those who think so are mistaken,” Dr Oburu said.
Oburu and Orengo were speaking in Ugunja, Siaya County on Friday where they led several MPs in assuring Raila of their support.
Siaya Governor Cornel Rasanga and MPs Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja), Elisha Odhiambo (Gem) and Samwel Atandi (Alego Usonga) maintained that ODM would still field Raila as its presidential candidate.
This is the second time the ODM leaders were speaking about Raila and the 2022 presidential race.
When Orengo first said Raila would make another stab at the top seat in 2022, the ODM leader disowned the statement, saying it was the senator’s personal view. He said he was still busy building bridges across the country following his handshake with President Kenyatta to end political hostilities.
Last month, ODM chairman John Mbadi said they still held Raila as the party’s presidential candidate, given that he, as the chairman, had never issued any certificate to a different candidate.
On Friday, the Nyanza leaders said it was wrong for some party officials and supporters to start shifting alliances just because Raila had said he did not want to discuss the 2022 elections.
Oburu said even if ODM will not field Raila, the party will still have a presidential candidate in 2022 and wondered why some ODM MPs or leaders were “nervous”.
“The law is clear that one cannot serve two masters at a time. If you are a member of ODM who subscribes to other parties’ ideals, then it means you are not loyal,” he said. Deputy President William Ruto has been wooing ODM MPs from the Coast, Kisii and Nyamira due to mixed signals on whether Raila will be in the race or not.
Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa has been leading an onslaught against ODM in the Coast by warming up to Ruto, who is also eyeing the presidency in 2022.
Dr Oburu said those who are supporting parties or individuals whose ideals were in competition with their sponsor party to Parliament were doing so illegally and should resign from their seats.
“But they should count themselves lucky that ODM has not invoked the law to even seek their ouster in Parliament,” he said.
He said ODM has not and does not intend to punish its members who have turned against it after using its tickets to win their way to Parliament.
“By promoting freer political practices, ODM could be sowing the seeds of non-violent change towards a freer and more democratic society,” Dr Oburu said.
He said their thought and expression should not be suppressed by those opposed to Raila’s candidature because they too have a right to back who they deem fit.
“But no one can be denied the means or the chance to make their political way in life,” Orengo said.
The senator supported the handshake between the president and Raila in the spirit of promoting national unity, saying it will pay off.