The Star (Kenya)

IS 2022 RAILA’S FI­NAL MO­MENT?

ODM leader is said to have kicked off coun­try­wide meet­ings to rally his sup­port bases to sup­port the im­pend­ing BBI re­port

- Se­nior po­lit­i­cal re­porter @Onchir­im­baka

ODM chief Raila Odinga’s po­lit­i­cal think tank is now bullish that 2022 will be the mo­ment for his elu­sive as­cen­sion to the pres­i­dency.

Raila’s grow­ing in­flu­ence within Mt Kenya re­gion ap­pears to be giv­ing hope to his key strate­gists that a fifth stab at the pres­i­dency car­ries his most prime chance to take over the reigns of power.

Raila is en­joys the trap­pings of power - even with­out any for­mal po­si­tion in the Ex­ec­u­tive- with in­flu­en­tial fig­ures from Mt Kenya warm­ing up to him.

An­a­lysts say he would lever­age on his ca­ma­raderie with Pres­i­dent Keny­atta to make sig­nif­i­cant in­roads into the vote-rich re­gion to en­hance his 2022 chances.

On Thurs­day, a univer­sity don who works as part of Raila’s think tank told the Star in con­fi­dence that the ODM leader would roll out his 2022 cam­paigns soon.

“Never be­fore has Raila had the most re­al­is­tic chance than it ap­pears in 2022. You can take it to the bank that Raila will be in the bal­lot,” said.

The strate­gist af­firmed that Raila has “what ev­ery po­lit­i­cal player would yearn for” in a pres­i­den­tial quest.

“Raila will take the shot be­cause 2022 of­fers the best for­tunes ever,” he said.

Raila is said to have kicked off coun­try­wide meet­ings to rally his sup­port bases to sup­port the im­pend­ing Build­ing Bridges Ini­tia­tive in a bid to fire up his po­lit­i­cal plans.

He has not de­clared his in­ter­est in the pres­i­dency, but as­ser­tions by his close al­lies and his lat­est moves show his de­ter­mi­na­tion to throw his hut into the ring.

Raila re­cently af­firmed that he would re­veal his fu­ture po­lit­i­cal plans af­ter the BBI re­port is out.

To con­sol­i­date his turfs, he has held meet­ings with lead­ers from Kake­mega and Taita Taveta coun­ties with ob­servers say­ing he could be pre­par­ing ground for his pres­i­den­tial am­bi­tion.

He has lined up more meet­ings in Western, Nyanza and Rift Val­ley in the com­ing weeks to en­gage grass­roots lead­ers.

While close al­lies have been cagey on Raila’s plans, one thing is clear: He will not en­dorse any pres­i­den­tial can­di­date.

“To ask him to en­dorse some­one else again is to ask too much. As the holder of the vi­sion for a new Kenya, the coun­try will do well to give him an op­por­tu­nity to im­ple­ment this vi­sion,” said ODM sec­re­tary gen­eral Ed­win Si­funa.

Party na­tional trea­surer Ti­mothy Bosire said Kenyans were yet to see the last of Raila in pres­i­den­tial pol­i­tics.

“It is not over yet. The flower of his legacy is be­ing re­mod­elled. I see him as a bal­anc­ing act be­tween the an­ar­chists and those op­er­at­ing on the sta­tus quo. His last con­tri­bu­tion is ahead of us. It is yet to come. In him we ex­pect ma­jor con­tri­bu­tions go­ing for­ward,” the ex-ki­tutu Masaba MP said.

Po­lit­i­cal an­a­lysts agree there’s s no way Raila would be so keen on the BBI, a re­vamp­ing ODM and seek­ing fresh al­lies if he had no in­ter­est in the pres­i­dency.

Odinga is busy re­brand­ing ODM, over­haul­ing its of­fice and op­er­a­tions and ral­ly­ing sup­port from bases such as Cen­tral where he has not been get­ting mas­sive back­ing.

Po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst Felix Odhiambo said Kenyans should bet­ter be used to the fact that Raila will be in the bal­lot in 2022.

“It is clear and Raila has sent the sig­nals that he is pre­par­ing to run. His can­di­da­ture has the bless­ings of in­flu­en­tial peo­ple within the cor­ri­dors of power and there is no way he will snub that,” he told the Star.

Ac­cord­ing to Odhiambo, Raila’s fi­nal mo­ment will be in 2022. “If he loses in 2022, Baba would have done his part. But if he wins, he is likely to be a tran­si­tional pres­i­dent,” he said.

The Star has estab­lished that most of Raila’s po­lit­i­cal al­lies are urg­ing him be­hind the scenes to go for the coun­try’s top seat in 2022 as he is guar­an­teed vic­tory.

They be­lieve that with the hand­shake and his larger-than-life stature, Raila now has the sup­port of the key in­sti­tu­tions and peo­ple who al­legedly in­flu­ence pres­i­den­tial out­comes.

‘WE HAVE THE SYS­TEM’

His el­der brother Oburu Oginga let the cat out of the bag when he claimed that Raila will be Pres­i­dent in 2022 be­cause he now has what he termed as ‘the sys­tem’ on his side.

“In my view, Raila is still fit for the pres­i­den­tial race. He has a lot of en­ergy…some­thing which we have been miss­ing is the so-called sys­tem…we are with Uhuru Keny­atta who is hold­ing the sys­tem. So, if we have the sys­tem plus our votes, which are usu­ally more than the oth­ers, what else do we need?” Oburu said.

In Kenyan pol­i­tics, the “sys­tem” refers to pow­er­ful bu­reau­crats, po­lit­i­cal op­er­a­tives and ty­coons bankrollin­g Kenya’s elec­tions.

But Ruto has dared the “sys­tem” to bring it on, say­ing he has “God” and a ma­jor­ity of Kenyans to back what he said was an un­stop­pable 2022 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.

“I just want to tell them: We’re wait­ing for you. This sys­tem, this deep state we are be­ing told about, we are wait­ing for it,” the DP said last month.

“They’ll come with the sys­tem, but we will be there with the peo­ple and God and see who wins.”

A fac­tion of the Pres­i­dent’s rul­ing Ju­bilee party is push­ing for a Raila pres­i­dency af­ter an ac­ri­mo­nious fall­ing out with Deputy Pres­i­dent Wil­liam Ruto.

NO AU­TO­MATIC JU­BILEE CAN­DI­DATE

Ruto, who un­til 2018 was seen as the Pres­i­dent’s heir ap­par­ent, has been boxed from state power and con­fined to the pe­riph­ery amid po­lit­i­cal tur­moil roil­ing the wob­bly Ju­bilee out­fit.

Ju­bilee sec­re­tary gen­eral Raphael Tuju on Tues­day re­vealed that the party has no au­to­matic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date and that aspirant will go through nom­i­na­tion.

“That pri­mary does not put into con­sid­er­a­tion any kind of deal that may have been there with the Pres­i­dent. That is not some­thing you can hold any­body to ac­count on,” Tuju said.

“There could have been some sort of swear­ing among friends but there is no way you can make a party to be ac­count­able to that and I think the Deputy Pres­i­dent is aware of this. I will sup­port him if he wins the nom­i­na­tions.”

In a bare-knuckle at­tack on the coun­try’s sec­ond in com­mand, the Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary with­out port­fo­lio said they were ready to sac­ri­fice Ju­bilee for the sake of na­tional unity.

“Even if we were to lose unity in the Ju­bilee Party so as to bring unity in this coun­try, that is still a higher goal and that is one of the rea­sons why the Pres­i­dent took the ex­tra­or­di­nary step of pur­su­ing the hand­shake,” Tuju said in an in­ter­view with Ci­ti­zen TV.

The nasty break-up in Ju­bilee ap­pears to be play­ing in Raila’s favour. Some of the Pres­i­dent’s al­lies have been vis­it­ing him at his Capi­tol Hill of­fice while oth­ers have ac­com­pa­nied him to 2022 strat­egy talks at the Ka­ji­ado home of pow­er­ful Cotu sec­re­tary gen­eral Fran­cis At­woli.

Ju­bilee vice chair­man David Mu­rathe, a close Keny­atta con­fi­dant, pub­licly en­dorsed Raila as the most suit­able and de­serv­ing suc­ces­sor to Uhuru.

“We think it is time Kenyans re­warded the long years of strug­gle by Odinga. They owe to him,” he said.

Mu­rathe, known to shoot from the hip while hav­ing the ear of the Pres­i­dent, com­pared Odinga with for­mer South Africa Pres­i­dent Nel­son Man­dela.

Mu­rathe’s re­marks that were not con­tra­dicted by any of the Pres­i­dent’s al­lies trig­gered pal­pa­ble ex­cite­ment within Raila’s camp.

With the hand of the Pres­i­dent cou­pled with sup­port of Mt Kenya re­gion, Raila’s al­lies have not shied away from ex­press­ing con­fi­dence that the for­mer prime min­is­ter will suc­ceed Uhuru.

Raila first threw his hat into the pres­i­den­tial ring in 1997 but did not run in 2002. He cried foul that his vic­to­ries in 2007, 2013 and 2017 were stolen.

OBURU ODINGA

In my view, Raila is still fit for the pres­i­den­tial race. He has a lot of en­ergy… some­thing which we have been miss­ing is the so-called sys­tem… we are with Uhuru

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 ?? JAMES MBAKA ??
JAMES MBAKA
 ?? /EM­MANUEL WANSON ?? ODM leader Raila Odinga and EU Am­bas­sador Simon Mordue at Capi­tol Hill, Nairobi, on Septem­ber 9
/EM­MANUEL WANSON ODM leader Raila Odinga and EU Am­bas­sador Simon Mordue at Capi­tol Hill, Nairobi, on Septem­ber 9
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