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Let’s meet at ODM primaries, Joho tells Raila

KENYA
By Patrick Beja | March 5th 2021

ODM leader Raila Odinga and Mombasa Governor Hassan Ali Joho addressing residents at Tudor in Mombasa County yesterday. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho yesterday said he was ready to face ODM party leader Raila Odinga at the ballot in his bid to be the outfit’s presidential flag bearer.

Joho said he will not drop his bid and said the party’s delegates will choose who will be the party’s candidate in 2021.

The ODM leader said he had no problem with Joho’s bid saying that as a democratic party, ODM welcomes anyone with presidential ambitions to contest.

The two leaders held several joint rallies in Mombasa yesterday. For over 15 years, Joho has extolled Raila as his political father and has never challenged him in public.

Joho and his Kakamega counterpart Wycliffe Oparanya have declared they will battle for the ODM ticket.  Last week, Joho said he has applied for the ODM ticket.

Joho yesterday said Coast residents have told him to aim for the presidency after serving two terms as governor and that he is not planning to let them down.

His stand comes barely two days after Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi also told Raila that he will not drop his plan to establish a coast-centric political party.

“Raila has said ODM is a democratic party and it allows everybody space to vie for the presidency. I will go through the primaries and if ‘Baba’ beats me, I will support him. I also expect him to support me if I win,” Joho stated.

The two leaders were speaking at the Caltex grounds in Likoni, Mombasa County, during a Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) rally.

Joho said he did not want to be given the ODM presidential ticket on a silver platter and that he was ready to compete with the party boss at the primaries.

Unlike Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi who has been leading the quest to form a coalition of Coast-based political parties, Joho yesterday maintained he would fight it out within ODM.

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Raila welcomed Joho’s declaration to try his luck with ODM saying it was the way to go in a healthy democracy.

He explained that even US President Joe Biden braved a field of nine aspirants in the vigorous primaries in his party before he was handed the party ticket and eventually won the presidency last year.

“Joho has the right to vie for the presidency after serving for two terms as governor. This is healthy democracy,” Raila said promising a free and fair nomination process.

He, however, maintained that he would declare his stand on the presidential contest after the passage of the BBI bill through the referendum.

Joho insisted that he was not mad to announce that he wanted to be the ODM flag bearer and commended Raila for accepting to be challenged.

Suna East MP Junet Mohamed and his Embakasi East counterpart Babu Owino had pleaded with Joho to shelve his presidential ambition and back the party leader.

“Raila has not yet served as president. Joho has a chance to become president but I urge him to drop the ambition now. He will have a chance after Raila,” Junet noted.

Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir said Joho was not looking for an endorsement from Raila as Coast people were behind his plan. 

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