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Raila Odinga event attracts large number of ODM followers

POLITICS
By Moses Nyamori | December 6th 2021
ODM leader Raila Odinga with political defectors from UDA Party in Kajiado during a ceremony to officially welcome them to the party at Chungwa House in Nairobi on December 6, 2021. [David Njaaga, Standard]

Orange Democratic Movement is struggling to contain huge number of supporters seeking to attend the Friday event where party leader Raila Odinga is expected to declare his presidential bid.

Party officials disclosed that they were overwhelmed by supporters seeking to attend the function at Kasarani Stadium in Nairobi, which has a 60,000 person capacity.

Today, Raila held a planning meeting with ODM and Jubilee party officials drawn from Nairobi in preparations for the event that will drive the 2022 presidential momentum.

Kanduyi MP Wafula Wamunyinyi – who unsuccessfully staged a coup against Ford Kenya party leader Moses Wetang'ula and Jubilee nominated MP Maina Kamanda attended the planning meeting.

The party is seeking to facilitate 10,000 delegates drawn from ODM and Jubilee, across the country while 50,000 supporters expected to come on their own from Nairobi and neighboring counties.

ODM director of elections Junet Mohammed said they have been forced to limit the number of invited guests from each of the 1,450 wards to five people to create room for other guests.

“We have invited five people from each ward; that will be about 7,000. We also have about 3,000 special guests. The other 50,000 are open for supporters of ODM, Jubilee and other parties supporting Azimio La Umoja,” he said.

“Invitations are going out to today. We have invited dignitaries from outside the country, including former presidents. Remember this man is African Union High Representative for Infrastructure Development.”

But the Suna East MP declined to provide details of the dignitaries from outside Kenya.

He further explained that the event was not an ODM affair but for parties backing Raila’s Azimio La Umoja campaign that has been running for months now.

It is not yet clear if President Uhuru Kenyatta will attend the event. The Head of State has clearly indicated that he is backing Raila to succeed him against his estranged deputy William Ruto. 

ODM party executive director Oduor Ong'wen on Sunday wrote to the chairs of the party’s County Coordinating Committee explaining how the selected delegates will be facilitated to Nairobi for the event.

“Kindly note that for the invited delegates, each ward has been allocated five delegates. These will be selected and facilitated by governors and other key supporters of Azimio la Umoja Initiative,” said Ong'wen in a text message to the officials.

The five delegates will be drawn from ODM, Jubilee and other outfits backing the Raila’s presidential bid.

“Over and above the foregoing, we are giving each ODM County Coordinating Committee six slots for officials. This is available to ODM only,” adds the texts.

Today, while receiving defectors from Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA) drawn from Kajiado, Raila said he will use the Friday event to announce whether he will run for the presidency.

He said that he has received overwhelming support from Kenyans in his nationwide Azimio La Umoja rallies.

Raila said majority of the supporters want him to continue engaging in active politics, suggesting he will be giving the top seat a fifth stab.

“We have gone to all parts of the country to get views. Everywhere we have gone, we have asked the people if I should continue or not. On Friday, I will provide the answer,” said Raila.

“We are almost to the peak; this journey started long time ago with my brother (President) Uhuru Kenyatta. Friday will show that Kenyans are now united,” he added.

Wamunyinyi said he was ready to work with Raila for the 2022 succession contest since he is was the most qualified to succeed Uhuru.

“We are looking forward to December 10. We have been with Raila but now I want us to work closer. He is more qualified to lead this country,” he said.

Kamanda was optimistic that Raila will be backed by Mt Kenya, and admitted that when they started selling the ODM leader in Mt Kenya, they hoped he would attract about 10 per cent of the votes.

He said Raila has surpassed their expectations and was now commanding about 50 per cent of the region’s support.

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