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Raila camps split over 2022 poll candidature

Seth Onyango and Eric Juma @PeopleDailyKe

Opposition chief Raila Odinga may not be hanging his political boots soon as some legislators urge him to focus energies on winning the 2022 election.

This may, however, not augur well for Nasa co-principals who say an MoU signed ahead of the 2017 election cycle bars Raila from contesting the top seat in the next General Election.

It comes just days after some factions within the opposition led by Kakamega governor Wycliffe Oparanya urged Raila to ditch politics and allow “new blood” to take over. The governor called on the former premier to accept his 2017 political fate that saw him lose to President Uhuru Kenyatta in twin presidential elections last year, asserting that Odinga’s stay in politics was impeding development.

But in a quick rejoinder, MPs affiliated to ODM dismissed those telling Raila to quit politics and accused them of working with Jubilee Party to scuttle the opposition. ODM secretary general Edwin Sifuna termed as premature calls for the ODM leader to retire, arguing that he was resourceful in the push for democracy and good governance in Kenya.

He said “Raila is in politics to stay” as he hinted that the latter would be gunning for a fifth stab at the presidency in 2022. “Those leaders calling for Raila to retire from politics…what have they done for this country? They should keep off our lane and see how Raila is going to run this race,” he told opposition supporters in Huruma slums.

“If you are tired and are used to handouts, you should stay aside…this time it is going to be hard,” he said, insinuating that Raila will not pass on the baton to anyone. Nasa co-principals Moses Wetang’ula, Musalia Mudavadi and Kalonzo Musyoka have been accused of cowardice after skipping Raila’s mock swearing-in as the “people’s president” on January 30.

Sifuna was accompanied by MPs Caleb Amisi (Saboti), Mark Nyamita (Uriri), Antony Oluoch (Mathare) and Godfrey Osotsi (Nominated). Elsewhere, four ODM leaders backed Sifuna’s sentiments and urged Raila not to quit politics and instead soldier on with the fight for reforms and good governance structures.

Legislators Amos Wako (Busia Senator), James Orengo (Siaya Senator), Elisha Odhiambo (Gem) and Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja) said Raila had not yet achieved his political goal.

The leaders said the best leaders in the Bible and Africa were aged 70. Wako said the country’s destiny is in the hands of all Kenyans irrespective of age, tribe and gender, and called on leaders to shun politics of exclusion and hatred.

“Some youthful politicians who are hungry for power are pushing for exit of Raila from leadership so as to replace him and we will oppose initiatives by anti-reform forces to achieve their selfish interests,” he said.

Orengo, Odhiambo and Wandayi said Jubilee was using their agents in Nasa to pressure Raila to exit from leadership. “Raila will not bow to pressure from agents of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto to quit politics to achieve selfish gains,” said Orengo.

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