Opposition MPs back former president's political involvement

Former President Uhuru Kenyatta speaks during Jubilee Party National Delegates meeting. [Samson Wire, Standard]

ODM leader Raila Odinga's allies have supported the decision by former President Uhuru Kenyatta to make a return to the political scene.

Although critics believe that the former Head of State should avoid politics, Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition appears keen to exploit his re-entry to strengthen their grassroots support.

In the last few weeks, the former president appears to have embarked on a quest to retrace his political roots and reclaim his grassroots support.

His political vehicle, the Jubilee party, which propelled him to rule the country for two terms, is on overdrive to boost its numbers across the country.

Yesterday, several ODM leaders claimed the former president is exercising his rights by engaging in politics.

National Assembly Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi said that all Kenyans, under Article 38 of the Constitution, have a right to make political choices and hold political views.

"Retired presidents are not an exception," Wandayi said.

Awendo MP Walter Owino said Uhuru has a right to engage in politics. According to Mr Owino, being retired does not mean that one cannot have a political opinion.

"What he cannot do is to vie for a political office," Owino said.

He pointed out that Uhuru was giving people a political direction, and termed the former president expressing his political opinions as good.

"Telling his supporters what he thinks as a retired president is not bad. He should talk to his people, be allowed to express his pleasure or displeasure on issues. I fully support what he is doing at the moment," Owino said.

He described Uhuru as a "big opinion leader and shaper" saying he should be allowed to do what he is doing provided he is not running for an elective post or in active politics by campaigning for himself.

But it remains to be seen how Azimio will exploit his involvement in politics to strengthen the coalition.

Nyatike MP Tom Odege said Uhuru is a voter and his opinion is important. "He is still relevant and there are people who are looking for his guidance."

Other MPs, however, said the former president should not engage in politics even if it is his right.

Uriri MP Mark Nyamita said, "Decency demands that a retired president should leave the successor to run their things. Especially if the successor did not do anything that is significant. He should be the father of the nation."

Rangwe MP Lillian Gogo said Uhuru needs to be involved in politics.

"This is because he took a stateman's position of getting rest and quiet and everything else has been because of Uhuru and his regime. They have literally gotten him from his resting position to come talk and give leadership which seems to be lacking," Ms Gogo said, adding that Uhuru should come and give guidance and direction on important national issues.