I will give direction after talks, says Raila

Azimio la Umoja leader Raila Odinga in Kitengela Kajiado County on August 27, 2023. [Emmanuel Wanson, Standard]

Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Alliance leader Raila Odinga has clarified his perceived silence amid ongoing bipartisan talks.

Raila who asked Kenyans to give the team time to discuss the issues tabled, said he will speak at the right time.

The ODM party leader said this Sunday in Bondo during the West Sakwa MCA Tabu Osewe homecoming.

He was accompanied by Governors James Orengo (Siaya), Ochilo Ayacko (Migori), Siaya Senator Oburu Oginga and his Migori counterpart Eddie Oketch.

Also present was MPs Samuel Atandi (Alego-Usonga), Babu Owino (Embakasii East), Peter Orero(Kibra), Aduma Owuor(Nyakach), Peter Masara (Suna West) and Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi.

Raila, who chided President William Ruto's administration over runaway corruption, said he would give the next course of action should the talks fail.

"People have been asking why I've been silent, but I want to tell the people of Kenya that my hands are tied. I want to give the team ample time to address the issues tabled," said Odinga.

The Opposition chief, who also waded into the debate on constitutional reforms, said President Ruto opposed the new constitution.

"We are all aware that the head of this government opposed the constitution because of devolution," said Raila, adding that they have denied county governments funds to deliver services to the people.

He added that as Azimio, they will continue with the fight to ensure that the people of Kenya realize the benefits of devolution.

Mr Raila's succession debate also took centre stage during the event, with ODM-allied MPs laughing off claims that there were plans by a section of leaders to take over from him.

In remarks aimed at challenging Siaya Senator Oburu's recent statement that the Minority Leader in the National Assembly, Mr Wandayi, was the best bet to succeed Mr Odinga, the leaders said he (Mr Raila) was still their leader.

"Let's unite as a community, support and respect our party leader," said Mr Masara, urging the bipartisan talks team to speed up their discussions.

Atandi, who said that there was no one to fit into Mr Raila's shoes, termed the claims as reports by the National Intelligence Services (NIS) to confuse Mr Odinga's supporters.

Governor Orengo, who took a swipe at those plotting to succeed Raila as the Luo kingpin, said it was demeaning to reduce Raila to a tribal chief.

Nyakach MP, on the other hand, asked the Luo community to walk together, adding that they were still behind the party leader.

"The struggle for some of the things we're enjoying today has a price, and we are warning those who have betrayed the party leadership that you cannot compete with one who made you," said Aduma, adding that those who betrayed the party leader have no political future.

Oburu and Wandayi steered clear of the succession debate and instead asked their supporters to rally behind the party leader.

"Our party is ODM, and anyone who has betrayed the party leadership should forget any possibility of being re-elected," said Wandayi.

He added that they would not abdicate their oversight responsibility at the expense of the ongoing dialogue.

Oburu asked the embattled legislators to resign and seek fresh mandates instead of going to court.

"The rebels have been there, and we should not be worried about them. Let the elected leaders work for the people," he said.

While asking President Ruto to save the country from the election mood, the lawmaker also warned him against poaching parliamentarians.

"We are not going to allow the presidential term limit to be revised," he said.