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ODM okays Raila's presidential candidacy for the August 9 polls

The ODM National Delegates Conference at the Kasarani Gymnasium on February 25, 2022. [Samson Wire, Standard]

The ODM National Delegates Convention has formally approved Raila Odinga's presidential candidature in the August 9 General Election.

The party delegates endorsed Raila as the sole presidential candidate after deputy party leaders Governors Hassan Joho (Mombasa) and Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega) withdrew their candidatures during the National Governing Council meeting on Friday.

The party at the same time resolved to defer grassroots and party officials' elections till 2023.

While proposing the resolution on the deferment of party elections, party chairman John Mbadi said this was due to the time factor as the General Elections was barely five months away.

ODM and Jubilee are holding their NDCs this Saturday at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) and the Kasarani Gymnasium respectively where they are set to endorse Raila as the Azimio la Umoja presidential flagbearer.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila are expected to rally their troops and ratify resolutions that include the parties' nomination rules passed during their respective National Governing Council meetings held Friday.

Delegates at the NGC also reviewed the party’s policies and ratified proposed changes to the parties' Constitution.

The ODM and Jubilee NDCs are a culmination of events that started in March 2018 when Uhuru and Raila settled their differences after a disputed 2017 General Election that marked an end to the acrimony between the two leaders and their supporters.

The two leaders’ political journeys come full circle this Saturday as the President is expected to formally endorse Raila’s candidature for the Presidency in the August 9 polls under the Azimio la Umoja coalition movement in front of thousands of party delegates.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM party leader Raila Odinga at Kisumu International Airport on May 30, 2021. [Benjamin Sakwa]

This comes hot on the heels of Uhuru’s Sagana 3 meeting this week where he openly endorsed Raila and at the same time castigated his deputy William Ruto saying the latter is "not yet ready" to succeed him as the country’s fifth president.

The President’s message set the stage for a bruising political battle for the heart and soul of Mt Kenya, a region seen as leaning towards Ruto and where Uhuru seeks to assert his dominance and have a say on his successor.

Raila on Friday moved to allay fears over Uhuru’s betrayal insisting that their union is firmly grounded on uniting and building a prosperous nation for all Kenyans.

“Some people said Uhuru was cheating me and would abandon me, but I knew he would not,” Raila told his party’s NGC Friday, moments after they had endorsed him as their presidential flagbearer.

ODM Director of Elections Junet Mohamed on Friday revealed that Uhuru and Raila’s partnership will be formalised in two weeks when the Azimio la Umoja Coalition movement will be launched.

“Over 10 parties who have already subscribed to the Azimio Coalition will be invited to the grand launch. ODM and Jubilee will become anchors and founding members of the Jubilee Coalition movement,” Junet added.

The Azimio coalition was further strengthened later Friday after the One Kenya Alliance declared they had finally opened talks with the Jubilee and ODM parties to ultimately form the Azimio- One Kenya Alliance.

In a statement read at the Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka command centre, the OKA principals announced that the alliance has officially initiated open and structured dialogue with like-minded political formations - namely Jubilee Coalition and the ODM Party.

Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka however maintained that the Alliance that will not fold its member parties to join the cluster parties that have already signed coalition pacts with Raila's ODM and Uhuru's Jubilee.