Raila says Azimio la Umoja is not early campaigns

ODM leader Raila Odinga in Lodwar, Turkana County. [Courtesy]

ODM leader Raila Odinga has dismissed claims of engaging in early campaigns as baseless and unfounded.

Speaking when he met defectors to the Orange Party at Chungwa House, including Marsabit Woman representative Saphia Sheikh Adan, Raila defended his Azimio la Umoja rallies terming them non-political and only meant to unite Kenyans.

"Azimio la Umoja is basically a consultation with Kenyans. I don't know how that can be interpreted as campaigning," Raila said yesterday.

He noted that, unlike his competitors, ODM had not picked a presidential candidate yet, and that him campaigning was not factual.

"We have been consulting people around the country. We have been asking people what they want. That cannot be remotely interpreted as early campaigns," he added.

Raila also took a swipe at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) blaming it for not taming those currently engaging in early campaigning.

"Tell Chebukati to warn the people. Don't just make wild allegations," said Raila.

The sentiments came a day after Deputy President William Ruto also distanced himself from early campaigns.

Ruto, who was speaking at his Karen residence, said he was conducting his normal duties as Deputy President, trying to understand views of the people.

Raila Odinga receives Marsabit Woman representative Saphia Sheikh Adan at Chungwa House, Nairobi. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

"I haven't started the campaigns because the campaign period is not yet announced by IEBC, what you have seen me do is what my mandate is, speaking to people, understanding their issues, assessing the extent of our government programmes on how far they are and receiving feedback from the public," said Ruto.

The DP and the ODM leader, among other top politicians, have however been engaging in what the IEBC has termed as early campaigns.

IEBC chairperson Wafula Chebukati had raised a red flag about the ongoing campaigns saying it would polarise the country, and stir political instability months before the August 9, 2022 polls.

According to the IEBC calendar, campaigns are supposed to run for two months to the election date.

Chebukati said politicians and aspirants had intensified their campaigns outside the legally prescribed period according to the IEBC calendar.

“The commission urges all political parties and aspirants to refrain from engaging in early campaigns prior to the general election,” a statement by IEBC said.