A day after promising a scorched-earth campaign against political detractors, ODM leader Raila Odinga yesterday said he had not abandoned the presidential race.
In a declaration that could signal the party's political trajectory as 2022 beckons, Raila gave the clearest pointer yet that he could be in the ballot in next year's General Election, but after delivering the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).
He described BBI as a process of sifting the grain from the chaff "so that we can go directly to the mill".
"It is a tactical retreat before I advance. I have not surrendered, we are advancing and we are certain that we are going to succeed," said Raila while answering questions from Muslim clerics and scholars in Mombasa.
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And as he pointed to the strategy, his deputy party leader Hassan Joho was raining fire on a group of legislators from the Coast region who are threatening to form a regional party to further bleed ODM of its gains. Joho dared them to quit and seek a fresh mandate from the people.
Joho called out Deputy President William Ruto as the principal mover of the initiative, vowing to teach them a lesson.
“It is the usual cause of people trying to earn a living through fraud and conmanship whose godfather Kenyans know only too well,” said the Mombasa governor.
Through their spokesperson, Kilifi North MP Owen Baya, the rebellious ODM MPs vowed to unveil their new political outfit soon, calling on their supporters to remain vigilant.
Baya was stripped of his position as ODM National Executive Committee (NEC) organising secretary for subscribing to the Tangatanga wing allied to the DP.
He is not the only one rebelling from his party. Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa, who is also a member of the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) courtesy of the Orange party, is also a Ruto die-hard supporter.
She led the recent campaigns against ODM candidate Omar Boga in the Msamweni Constituency by-election in support of Ruto’s candidate Feisal Bader.
But yesterday, Joho took them head-on, saying they were being used to eat up the unity of Coast under the Orange party.
“If the leaders mean well for the region, they would push for greater unity instead of more divisions,” he said.
At the meeting with the clerics, Raila implored upon Muslim leaders to support BBI on account of it addressing their grievances. He said the BBI proposes a three-pronged strategy – administrative, legal and constitutional actions – to address problems facing Kenyans.
"The Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC), Kriegler report, Ndung'u land report and others will be implemented as stipulated in the administration action in the BBI," said the former prime minister.
He accused Ruto of deceiving Kenyans through tokens and alms, adding that the DP had failed to assist President Uhuru Kenyatta to implement the Jubilee manifesto.
"He was with President Uhuru for five years in the first term, he is serving the third year of their second term and now wants to run away from their shortcomings and blame Raila," he said. "He is part and parcel of the Jubilee administration and whenever things go wrong, he ought to take responsibility and not apportion blame to others."
Raila said he has had a close working relationship with Muslims and urged them to support the BBI.
[Philip Mwakio and Roselyne Obala]