William Kabogo: Why Raila Odinga cannot be ignored

Former Kiambu Governor William Kabogo during an interview on KTN News on April 5, 2023. [Standard]

Former Kiambu Governor William Kabogo says Azimio la Umoja leader Raila Odinga is a major political player in Kenya who cannot be easily ignored.

Kabogo further says Odinga is aware of the advantage he has over other politicians, and that’s why he appears to be relatively successful in his push for demos.

Speaking on KTN News on Wednesday, April 5, Kabogo said the difference in the number of votes that President Ruto got against Odinga in the August 9, 2022 presidential election was just over 200,000.

Ruto, who ran on UDA ticket, got 7.19 million votes against Odinga’s 6.95 million votes.

“You cannot ignore Raila [in the Kenyan political matrix]. The difference in the number of votes between him and President Ruto was 200,000. He knows about those numbers. So, when he calls for those numbers to line up on the streets, they [definitely] will,” said Kabogo.

The former county chief made the remarks while reacting to Azimio’s threats of returning to demos on Monday should members of the Kenya Kwanza alliance shortchange them in the bipartisan talks proposed by President Ruto.

The bipartisan team, which is yet to be assembled, will agree on the membership of the IEBC selection panel, among other issues.

Kabogo also took issue with the unending conflicts after presidential elections in Kenya. He proposed that the Office of the Leader of the Official Opposition be created to avert situations where the first runner-up feels left out, given the current winner-takes-all arrangement.

“We need to change the law [on leadership structure] to allow the Official Leader of the Opposition in Parliament. By doing that, he or she is able to check the government and push his agenda in Parliament. This situation of winner takes it all is the reason we are suffering [politically] as a country,” he said.

One of the demands Odinga made to Ruto was that the membership of the IEBC selection panel be reviewed to allow the Opposition to have a notable say in the people who pick the next commissioners of the electoral agency.

On Sunday, April 2 President Ruto said that he was open to reviewing laws on selecting the next Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) commissioners through bipartisan negotiations.