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Raila: Why I am not declaring my 2022 ambitions just yet

POLITICS
By Harold Odhiambo | January 31st 2021
ODM leader Raila Odinga [Harold Odhiambo, Standard]

ODM leader Raila Odinga yesterday hit out at critics for dragging his name into succession politics in a bid to derail the Building Bridges Initiative.

Although he is expected to make a fifth stab at the presidency, Raila yesterday sought to explain his current stand, describing 2022 as “an event” that will come and go.

The ODM leader also launched a scathing attack on Deputy President William Ruto and his Tangatanga brigade, accusing them of promoting divisions.

Unite country

According to Raila, succession talk will derail the quest to improve and unite the country through the BBI process, adding that his main focus now is to market the initiative.

He said that when they met with President Uhuru Kenyatta, their main vision was to unite the country and not about his own political ambitions.

“What we are dealing with is very comprehensive. If you mix the two, then you are going to lose focus,” said Raila. “BBI is an important issue and I do not want to mix it with 2022,” he added.

He was speaking in Bondo during the burial of former Bondo Teachers Training College Principal Joshua Ogendi, where he continued with his campaigns for BBI and rallied locals to support the initiative.

He claimed those talking about his presidential ambitions are pushing the narrative to shift the attention of Kenyans from BBI.

“The people who are talking about it are doing it so that people can ignore the document (BBI). I am urging Kenyans to ignore those people,” said Raila.

Although he has played down claims he will be on the ballot, both friend and foe believe he is shaping up his bid to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta and is using the BBI to rebrand himself.

His actions also paint a different picture after the ODM chief started the process of revamping his Orange party that has already invited interested politicians to apply for its party ticket.

On Monday, the ODM leader will meet with delegates from Nyanza region in Kisumu, with sources informing Sunday Standard that part of the agenda is the BBI as well as preparations for 2022 General Election.

Raila has contested the country’s top seat four times and lost. On three occasions, he has come too close to give up. Thrice he has entered into partnerships with the winners. His supporters believe he still has a “final bullet” for the country’s top seat.

More than ever before, a fifth stab is tempting but also confounding and Raila has had to come out to downplay any interest.

ODM leader Raila Odinga [Edward Kiplimo]

Yesterday, the clearest indication however came from his brother Oburu Oginga, who had accompanied Raila. Oburu claimed the ODM leader is ready to contest for the country’s top seat.

Oburu said support from President Kenyatta would be great but insisted that Raila can fight on his own, adding that the BBI deal was not linked to succession politics.

The ODM chief dismissed Ruto’s camp who wrote a letter to Uhuru last week to voice their dissent over his attempts to infiltrate Mount Kenya.

“I am not visiting Mount Kenya to campaign for myself. I am visiting the region to push for BBI,” said Raila.

He claimed that the pockets of violence witnessed during his tour last week in Githurai was sponsored by a politician who served in his office when he was the Prime Minister before ODM nominated the politician to parliament.

He termed the violence as unfortunate, adding that it is among the issues that the BBI process is trying to address.

No agenda

Raila also claimed that those that have already started campaigning to succeed President Kenyatta do not have an agenda for the country.

And with the BBI Bill already at the county assemblies, Raila urged ward reps to endorse the document and appealed to them to ignore those opposed to it.

“The ball is now in the court of the county assemblies. I am appealing to them to endorse the document,” said Raila.

He emphasised the gains that the initiative will have for the country and said it will be key in unlocking the country’s economic potential.

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