OPINION: Why Azimio candidate Raila Odinga lost the presidency

Martha Karua has been a consistent supporter of Boniface Mwangi's activism. [Photo courtesy, Boniface Mwangi]

I need to state from the onset that I was not an employee but a volunteer at the campaign secretariat. My belief in their candidature led me to rally behind the cause.

August 9th rolled in and we voted and waited.

On 15th August 2022 the president-elect William Ruto was declared the winner of the 2022 general election. This win was challenged in the Supreme Court and we followed the proceedings earnestly.

On 5th September 2022, Ruto's win was upheld by the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, within the Azimio fraternity, accusations were traded, blame apportioned. Many were said to have slept on the job and some were cast as traitors.

As the blame game continues and as the controversies surrounding 50 percent +1, Forms 34A, party agents, and the Supreme Court ruling persist, I would like to go on record stating that Azimio's overconfidence and grossly underestimating our opponent cost us the presidential election.

Ida Odinga [left] and Martha Karua [right] in a past event. [Photo courtesy, Boniface Mwangi]

There is still some hope, though.

The Azimio Coalition has a majority in the legislature. Azimio must hold President Ruto's government to account. The registrar of political parties must come out strongly to rein in political impunity. Politicians elected under Azimio are now defecting. This is unlawful. Ideally, all those elected under the Azimio coalition in breach of the Azimio Coalition should be subjected to a by-election. They should resign, and run on a Kenya Kwanza ticket.

These last-minute decamping is deceitful and a betrayal to the people who elected them. The opposition leaders will need to work together and focus on the mandate the voters gave them and be very disciplined to deliver to the voters' expectations. Azimio has control in 23 counties. We want to see a difference in governance in their counties.

What next for Raila

Raila is a statesman with vast experience that many can learn from. He can set up the Raila Odinga Leadership Centre to train and prepare the next generation of leaders that can transform Kenya. He remains an inspiration to Kenya, the region, and the continent. A beacon of hope for many. He can now inspire a new generation of active citizens to understand leadership isn't an entitlement; it is a call of duty and service to your country. These citizens will hold all duty bearers to account and demand transparency, and integrity from their leaders.

6.9 million Kenyans voted for Raila. They're hurting and they need direction. Some 8 million Kenyans, mostly young people, did not vote in this election. That's more than those who voted for either Raila or Ruto. If galvanized, this could be the "Third Force". I look forward to being part of this movement, the one that will hold Ruto's government accountable for every campaign promise he made.

My constitutional right

To those who are disappointed that l supported Raila and Karua, I would like to remind them that Kenya is a multiparty democracy, Article 4(2) declares that the Republic of Kenya is a multi-party democratic state founded on the national values and principles of governance, meaning I have a constitutional right to support a party different from yours. I make no apologies for supporting Azimio. It is my democratic and constitutional right. You should respect my choice, just the same way that I respect yours.

The perception that supporters of Azimio are deemed enemies of the state are unfounded, misinformed, and dangerous.

President Ruto is the president of the Republic of Kenya, not Kenya Kwanza. This means he has a responsibility to all Kenyans including those who didn't vote for him. Kenya belongs to all of us and we all have a responsibility to Kenyans to do our best for the nation to thrive. This remains my firm commitment to my country and one that you can hold me to.

Boniface Mwangi is a human rights defender based in Nairobi and was a volunteer in the Azimio Presidential Secretariat during Kenya's 2022 general election.