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Raila shifts focus to election race to cover lost ground

By Moses Nyamori | January 21st 2021 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

From left, Suna MP Junet Mohamed, Homa Bay Woman Representative Gladys Wanga and Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho at Chungwa House in Nairobi yesterday. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

The Orange Democratic Movement has begun the process of identifying its presidential candidate for the 2022 General Election.

Addressing journalists yesterday after a meeting of the party’s Central Management Committee in Nairobi, the party said it would in the next three days publish an advertisement inviting bids from those seeking to be considered for the party ticket.

ODM’s decision to focus on the presidential succession race may have been informed by a perceived fear that President Uhuru Kenyatta might fail to rally his supporters to back party leader Raila Odinga in the wake of a resurgent Deputy President William Ruto.

Sources at yesterday’s meeting described it as ‘stormy’, with the general feeling being that Central Kenya may not add much to Raila’s vote basket due to the region’s perceived dislike for proposed constitutional changes through the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).

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There were also concerns that Ruto is already campaigning for the top seat. 

The DP’s camp has heightened its political activities and recently won over Chama Cha Mashinani party leader and former Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto who pledged to support Ruto’s presidential bid.

“The party’s central committee has at its meeting this morning resolved to officially launch preparations for the 2022 elections,” said Secretary General Edwin Sifuna at the press conference attended by ODM’s two deputies–governors Hassan Joho (Mombasa) and Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega).

The move appeared to suggest that the party may be diverting its energy from the BBI, a pet project of Uhuru and Raila, to focus on next year’s elections.

In a statement released after the meeting, officials also resolved that moving forward, all political engagements will be done in structured negotiations to protect party interests.

The party also directed the National Elections Board to begin revamping grassroots structures to fill vacant positions at the ward, branch and county levels.

The board shall release a timetable of the exercise in the next seven days.

Mr Oparanya said party members felt there was need to get ready for the presidential race since their opponents have already hit the ground running. He, however, added that the decision will not derail the push for a referendum.

“It is true that we have to start moving forward because the election date is not going to change,” he said.

The governor also said it was not a must for Raila to get the backing of Mt Kenya because the regions that have supported him in past polls were enough to deliver victory.

“We have always done well without Central in the past elections. It will not be do-or-die so long as we get a few votes from the region and retain our strongholds.”

ODM treasurer Timothi Bosire said they felt the need to reorganise the party by putting its candidate forward for the race.

“It is our wish that it (BBI) remains as was planned and we are in it to the end. But we are trying to refocus on 2022 with a view of being ready for the contest,” he said. 

The move by the party feeds into Raila’s latest strategy where he has sought to shrug off the Jubilee administration’s baggage of broken promises and poor service delivery as he prepares for a fifth attempt at the presidency.

Orange Democratic Movement 2022 General Election Raila Odinga Uhuru Kenyatta
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