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Raila warns leaders against playing dirty politics in ODM polls

Politics
  Raila Odinga addressing the ODM National Governing Council 2024 meeting at the Bomas of Kenya. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard] 

ODM leader Raila Odinga has warned that the party will take stern action against leaders who will play the tribal and regional card during grassroots elections.

Raila who was addressing the ODM National Governing Council 2024 meeting at the Bomas of Kenya, Nairobi, told leaders to stop premature succession campaigns.

He said that the upcoming grassroots elections should be a friendly contest that should serve to unite and not divide the party.

The opposition leader emphasized that elections should be held on the platform of policy, ideology and beliefs of ODM and not tribe, race, gender, region or religion.

“We have painstakingly built this party into a truly national liberation mass movement, it is too late and futile to try and turn it into a tribal or regional outfit, all our actions and utterances must reflect this reality, I particularly encourage women to go for leadership positions,” said Raila.

The former Prime Minister thanked party leaders saying they have served with courage and dignity over the years and even when they are being challenged for their positions it must be with decorum and dignity.

Raila regretted that the party is planning for the grassroots elections with a lot of difficulties because the Kenya Kwanza regime has denied them political parties funds which are constitutionally defined.

He reiterated the party will not allow the reforms they fought for to be taken away in their lifetime.

Raila said the new office bearers should prepare to go to war with the government on political parties funding.

However, he asked the leaders to remain clear on who the enemy is and what the battle is going to look like as they have no option but to look forward.

“ODM party was born out of a struggle, when a tiny elite forces of status quo tried to circumvent the wishes of Kenyans, the party sprung up as a mass movement to stand for the people, we must never lose sight of the fact that fighting on the side of the people is our calling,” said Raila.

The Azimio leader maintained that the National Dialogue Committee (Nadco) report is a negotiated settlement that should be implemented in totality.

Raila said they joined hands with partners to fight for electoral justice and accountability over 2022 elections and the punitive policies of the Kenya Kwanza regime.

He noted that they agreed to address the high cost of living, unfair practices in state appointments, high taxes and attempts to kill multiparty democracy.

The former Prime Minister urged ODM members not to allow to be divided saying it will be a great honour to him while serving as the Africa Union Commission Chairperson to see the party he founded growing up in lips and bounds to one of the largest parties in the continent.

“We must start organising to fight our opponents now and defeat them in the next elections, we know the huge damage that the party in power is doing to the country, we must begin refining our alternative and renewing policies,” he said.

National Assembly Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi assured ODM members that they are pushing for the implementation of the Nadco report with Parliament working towards ensuring that all the recommendations are implemented.

Wandayi said that as the Deputy Team Leader for Azimio in the talks he was keenly pushing for the implementation of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Amendment Bill to expedite the reconstitution of IEBC ahead of the 2027 General Election.

ODM deputy party leader Hassan Joho said that Raila's shoes cannot be filled by any leader and they require a lot of wisdom to stay united if he clinches the African Union Commission Chairperson position.

Joho announced that the party is working towards forming the next government in 2027 and asked leaders being intimidated by state agencies to stay put.

“I would like to tell my friend Kisii Governor Simba Arati not to be shaken since what he is going through is what I passed through while serving as Mombasa Governor but with Raila on my side I knew I was safe, I would like to assure him that his popularity is on an upward trajectory,” he said.

ODM National Chairman John Mbadi echoed Joho’s sentiments saying the party will hold the government responsible if anything bad happens to the Kisii governor who is being targeted for persecution. Arati is the party national vice chairman.

ODM deputy party leader Wycliffe Oparanya said Raila has made great sacrifices for the country in the last 19 years and the party he put in place will remain strong and form the next government. Oparanya admitted that the loss of 2022 elections was painful to supporters.

He revealed that there was excitement when Raila launched his AUC Chairperson bid but this saw him (Oparanya) and Joho put in imaginary rival groups by their detractors.

“The ODM party does not have any division as it is being portrayed by some people who do not wish us well, we are going to conduct grassroots election that will make this party even stronger than what it is today in preparation for the next General Election,” said Oparanya.

Senate Minority Leader Stewart Madzayo promised to ensure that all recommendations in the Nadco report are implemented.

ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna announced that the party will restructure and devolve National Election Board to the counties ahead of the grassroots elections slated for April 27.

The ODM National Governing Council endorsed Raila’s candidature for the AUC Chairman.

“The National Governing Council has raised concern over incessant harassment by state agencies of Kisii Governor Simba Arati and former Muranga Governor Mwangi wa Iria by state agencies, we no longer live in the dark old days where state agents could act the way they want,” said Sifuna.

Kajiado Governor Joseph Lenku who spoke on behalf of governors elected on the party ticket said that they are working towards ensuring that success of devolution which has been championed by Raila over the years.

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