Don't dismiss ODM leader Raila Odinga just yet, those close to him advise

A clique of leaders opposing his reign and calling for his retirement believe the latest call for protests will be the final straw that will force him into retirement and claim he cannot sustain protests. They believe his energy has drained, his goals have changed and his support base is fatigued after several years of following the same political script.

His troops in ODM are cheering him on and believe he still has the mettle to push through reforms with the same vigour he had in 2007, 2013 and 2017. Not even the exit of some allies from Raila's camp appears to bother them about their leader's strength.

They believe he is like a proverbial snake shading its skin and will continue to pile pressure on the government until 2027, as long as he sees what he considers wrong and unconstitutional, taking place.

On Saturday, interviews with a number of ODM insiders, political analysts and some of his ardent supporters established that the ODM leader should not be underrated by the new administration.

They claim he is building momentum for a stronger opposition while also gauging his own political strengths as he begins rebranding himself.

Leaders close to him believe Raila is just starting the quest to ensure that the new regime does not take the country back to the dark days.

According to Rangwe MP Lilian Gogo, Raila's revolutionary spirit and his dedication to improve the lives of Kenyans as well as constitutionalism is a force that cannot be ignored.

"Raila is our leader and we will act on his clarion call. We cannot allow the new administration to drag us back to the dark days," said Gogo.

Political pundit Barrack Muluka. [Chrispen Sechere, Standard]

According to Prof Macharia Munene, Raila could be rebranding himself with his latest moves.

"He did not believe he was going to lose the election and is rebranding himself," said the former USIU don.

Constitutional lawyer Joshua Nyamori, however, argues that Raila should not be underrated.

"Raila has a strong following. He will also be helped by the high level of unemployment. The unemployment means that people will still attend his rally and could start the momentum to pile pressure on Ruto's administration," says Nyamori.

According to Nyamori, Raila has intense mobilisation skills.

"He has a strong network with his ODM party and can get a critical mass if his troops mobilize well. There are people who strongly believe in him," says Nyamori.