ODM leader Raila Odinga has hinted that he will make a fifth stab at the presidency in 2022, setting ground for a bruising battle with Deputy President William Ruto.
In 2017, during presidential campaigns, Raila (pictured) and his political allies indicated that the ODM leader had just ‘one bullet’ to use in the election.
The former premier went ahead to successfully challenge the outcome of the 2017 presidential results at the Supreme Court, but declined to contest in the repeat election after President Uhuru Kenyatta’s victory was nullified.
But on Saturday, Raila alluded to being on the ballot in 2022.
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Speaking in Mabole village, Butere constituency, during a funeral, the ODM leader dismissed those urging him to retire from active politics, insisting that he has the responsibility to midwife Kenya’s ‘third liberation’.
He said he was determined to liberate Kenyans from poverty, corruption and marginalisation.
“Do you want me to retire? Do you want me to retire? Okay, I am still strong and ready to lead the third liberation which we have begun,” Raila told mourners during the funeral service of John Luchera, a cousin of Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya.
The former Prime Minister said his political enemies celebrated when he was in hospital in Dubai, thinking that it was the end of the road for him.
“They expected that I would come back in a wheelchair. They were wrong. Today, I am much stronger and prepared to lead the country’s third liberation,” Raila said.
This is the first time that Raila has come out to clear any doubt that he will contest in the 2022 General Election to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Raila’s declaration comes days after he and President Kenyatta released the Building Bridges Initiative report at Kisii State Lodge on Wednesday.
ODM leaders, including the former premier’s elder brother Oburu Oginga, have in the past hinted that he will be on the ballot. President Kenyatta still has 21 months in office before the end of his final term and this has stirred succession politics.
Ruto, who attended a Church service at Our Lady of Assumption Indangalasia Catholic Church and St. Leo Catholic Church, Kakamega County, yesterday, has mounted a spirited campaign to take over from his boss in 2022.
Jubilee Party Vice Chairman David Murathe has on several occasions asked Kenyans to brace for a Raila presidency in 2022 likening the bid to South Africa’s quest for freedom under the late Nelson Mandela.
Mr Murathe said it was time Kenyans rewarded the former Prime Minister who put everything on the line for the country’s development.
“We think it’s time Kenyans rewarded the years of struggle of Raila Amollo Odinga. They owe it to him. It’s like Mandela, and 2022 will be a Mandela Moment. And we would also like to tell him (Raila) to be a transitional president who will then nurture the young generation to take over in 2027,” he said.
He predicted that Raila would be a one-term president, paving the way for a new shift in leadership in 2027.
Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi yesterday said that it was clear that Raila would be on the ballot in 2022.
“It was a matter of when he would declare and not if, we knew he would be on the ballot. It’s not new,” said Mudavadi.
The ANC leader, Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka and Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula were principals in the National Super Alliance Coalition that had sponsored Raila’s “last bullet” stab at the presidency.
In the NASA pact, Raila was supposed to vie for presidency in 2017 and allow another candidate to run in 2022.
“If he was gentleman enough, he would have supported Kalonzo. We have stood with him as a community two times and in both instances we have given him more votes than what he gets in his Nyanza backyard,” said Kitui Rural MP Makali Mulu.
Mr Mulu explained that according to the pact, Raila would have supported Kalonzo in 2022. He vowed that the Wiper leader will go it alone in 2022.
“We are not seeking any endorsement for Kalonzo. Raila has constitutional right to contest much as we expected him to return the favour, but the Wiper leader will be on the ballot and we will treat the former Prime Minister as a competitor,” said Mulu.
Former Machakos Senator and former head of NASA coordination committee said that Raila had an agreement with Kalonzo and the other coalition partners for 2022 and should have honoured it.
“Raila has his rights to contest like other candidates, but I want to tell them that they will be beaten by Ruto at 10am, but let him escort the deputy president,” said Mr Muthama.