Raila allies take on Ruto backers over AU posting

Raila Odinga at a past function. Jubilee leaders say the NASA chief should quit local politics. [File, Standard]
The allies of Opposition chief Raila Odinga have turned their ire on the lieutenants of his political nemesis, Deputy President William Ruto, for asking him to quit local politics.

Mr Ruto's allies had on Sunday said Raila should not mix his new job with domestic issues, adding that Ruto’s route to power was now clear with Raila’s "exit".

Raila has been appointed High Representative for Infrastructure Development in Africa. The African Union Commission said his appointment was part of its drive to fast-track integration of the continent.

Jubilee leaders have asked Raila to step down from active politics and concentrate on his new responsibilities.

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The leaders, who spoke during the weekend at a fundraiser in aid of a church, claimed that Raila’s appointment to the AU signified an end to his local political career.

The function held in Uasin Gishu coincided with another event in Nandi County at which President Uhuru Kenyatta and Ruto were presiding.

Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung'wa said: “Now that he has been appointed, we expect him to work with other international leaders to ensure development is realised in the country. We shall not expect him to indulge in local politics.”

Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro praised Uhuru for vouching for Raila.

“His calls for a referendum should come to an end because he has been appointed to a higher office. He should shun local politics and engage in Africa’s leadership in ensuring that our roads are set up to a required international standards,” he said.

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Bomachoge MP Alpha Miruka said leaders should focus on development not constitutional changes.

“They are the ones who have been calling for a referendum but as a leader who believes in the current leadership of Kenyatta and his deputy, it is imperative that the changes be put on hold until we realise all the promises we made to the locals,” he added.

Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa said the former premier should keep off the country’s political affairs.

"He will not have time to rally citizens to unnecessary demonstrations like before, which is good for the country’s development,” he said.

Ford Kenya Deputy Party Leader Boni Khalwale said Raila’s position gives the country an opportunity to reach out to other institutions such as Africa Development Bank (ADB) in improving the region’s infrastructure.

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“He should go and be a faithful servant like our own Dr Mukhisa Kituyi, who was appointed by the United Nations. For a start, he should remove his thoughts from Kenya and focus on Africa. Let the local politics be played by us,” he said.

But yesterday, Raila’s allies fought back, saying those hoping Raila would quit local politics were "dreaming".

MPs John Mbadi (Suba South), Junet Mohamed (Suna East), Otiende Amollo (Rarieda), Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja) and Godfrey Osotsi (nominated) reminded the DP’s allies that Raila was now in a poised position to win the presidency in 2022 should he contest.

Mr Mbadi said the appointment had nothing to do with local politics.

“Politics is a right that is enshrined in the Constitution and cannot be denied. The position given to Raila is more of an advisory role rather than that of a chief executive officer of an association. They should get used to the fact that Raila will be here for a while,” the ODM chairman said. 

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Junet told Jubilee leaders to stop making Raila their agenda. "They think all problems start and end with Raila,” he said.

“A continental job doesn’t bar anyone from contesting for any political seat. As far as I’m concerned, Raila is still the ODM party and Opposition leader,” said Junet, adding that “even if Raila is appointed by the United Nations, he still remains our presidential candidate in 2022."

Mr Wandayi, ODM’s political affairs secretary, said Raila was not invited to politics by anybody and did not require anybody to tell him to quit

“...nobody can dictate to him when to retire. If Africa needs him then Kenya even needs him more. Mr Odinga is a revolutionary and a freedom fighter. Revolutionaries never retire,” he said.

Mr Amollo said there was no law locally or internationally barring Raila from contesting any political seat in the country. Mr Osotsi said Raila still had the right to be elected and elect a candidate of his choice.

Cherangany MP Joshua Kuttuny (Jubilee) said the appointment had boosted Raila's ratings, not just locally but internationally as well.

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Raila OdingaWilliam RutoElections 2022