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Support for Raila's AU bid shouldn't be pegged on his loyalty to Ruto

 President William Ruto and former primier Raila Odinga at Yoweri Museveni's Kisozi farm in Uganda, February 2024. [PCS]

The Kenya Kwanza leadership should not use its support for Raila Odinga's bid for the coveted chairmanship of the African Union Commission (AUC) to gag him.

The recent outbursts by leaders of the bicameral houses; Senate's Aaron Cheruiyot and his National Assembly counterpart Kimani Ichung'wah that Raila must toe the Ruto administration's line were in bad taste.

The pro-Ruto politicians should instead address themselves to Raila's concerns over the haphazard management of public affairs. 

All Raila was asking for were temporary structures and amenities to be provided those displaced by the devastating floods as they awaited the rains to subside.

The two leaders' demand that Raila must remain loyal to President Ruto if he wanted the Head of State to continue supporting his AUC chairmanship bid, was unacceptable. 

Raila's bid is not and should not be pegged on his loyalty to the President, but on his own qualifications to serve in that office. 

Raila has earned his position in the country's history for always standing with the poor masses as their good governance champion.

Ichung'wah and Cheruiyot's concern that the ODM leaders was being disrespectful to Ruto at a time the President is his leading campaigner for the AUC slot confirms fears among Kenyans, mainly opposition supporters, that the fronting of Raila to the AU by the ruling coalition has ulterior motives.

Raila seems to have angered the Ruto handlers with his strong opposition to the demolition of houses in parts of Nairobi.

The government, through the Interior ministry ordered the demolitions as a means of saving lives of those residing in the flood-prone areas. He demanded that the government first offers those targeted alternative sites to move to.

Raila also dismissed Ruto as a failure who can't be relied upon to rescue the country from the myriad challenges that it is grappling with.

Cheruiyot and Ichung'wah are doing Ruto disservice by declaring to the world that he's campaigning for a leader he would want to micromanage.

Announcing that Ruto is the most respected African president to determine if Raila wins or not, might not go down well with some heads of state who might interpret it to mean that that will merely be influenced by the Kenyan president and not by Raila's competence.

Again how will they expect Raila to relate with Ruto were the majority of the African presidents to decide to vote in Raila with minimal or no influence from Dr Ruto?

Chances of Raila winning are high given his own campaigns and should he win, minus the Ruto support, the relationship between them at the continental arena will never be admirable.

I am of the view that the Ruto administration should accord Raila unconditional support to capture the AUC seat, regardless of the leader's stand on local issues. 

Fortunately, the President has not attached any conditions, including total loyalty as advocated by Ichung'wah and Cheruiyot, to his support for Raila.

Ruto's Foregin Affairs CS Musalia Mudavadi is on record, just like the President, saying that Kenya was presenting the best among equals for the African Union leadership. 

That should remain the position as we move to a more intense campaign season for the position.

-Mr Omanga is a media practitioner. [email protected]

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