Of Raila's mixed signals on 2022, power elevation - Beaking Kenya News

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Saturday, 21 December 2019

Of Raila's mixed signals on 2022, power elevation

ODM leader Raila Odinga.
If there was anything that could be concluded as predictable in Kenya’s politics, it was the moves by ODM leader Raila Odinga.
But that is no longer the case as the AU Infrastructure envoy has continued sending coded signals on whether he’ll bid for the presidency in 2022.
On one part, Raila appears to be building a team of new allies to face off with Deputy President William Ruto who has declared his interest in the seat.
He has brought to his circle governors Anne Waiguru (Kirinyaga), Alfred Mutua (Machakos), Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni), and Charity Ngilu (Kitui).
The ODM boss has also pulled allies from among prominent leaders in the greater Mount Kenya region and is said to be working closely with Baringo Senator Gideon Moi.
Kanu secretary general Nick Salat and Cherangany MP Joshua Kutuny are among other leaders from the Rift Valley who appear to be leaning towards Raila’s polity.
The former Prime Minister recently opened a new ODM office at the posh Lavington estate and is leading a campaign for an online party member registration.
But in all these, officially, the ODM leader says it is too early to discuss 2022, a position he has taken in the wake of Ruto allies prodding him to run.
At the height of speculations that he would not turn down such an opportunity, his secretariat said his candidature is not the nation’s priority.
On the other hand, there is a feeling the ODM boss will join President Uhuru Kenyatta in forming a team that would counter the DP.
In the scenario, some say Uhuru and Raila are working on a compromise candidate who will not perpetuate the notion the country’s top seat is not a preserve of the dynasties.
In this equation, it is the name of Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i that is being fronted, as is said to be the preferred handshake candidate.
The matrix takes a new shape, characteristic of the change that the country’s politics has been defined since the era of coalitions to meet the Constitution’s 50per cent+1 win threshold.
Observers, however, say the ODM leader’s politics has not changed as he has shown a trend of working with his perceive rivals ‘with the hope of making a step to the top seat’.
The belief is that by agreeing to work with Uhuru in the March 9 handshake, he managed to shadow-box not only Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka but also ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi.
Political commentator Charles Nyambuga of Maseno University holds the school of thought that Raila’s dealings are for one objective – to run in 2022.
He posits that Raila is thinking along the same line of working with his arch-rivals as was in the case of Kanu and later Mwai Kibaki in 2002. 
The ODM leader was known not to be anywhere near Kibaki before they formed Narc, a vehicle they used to challenge President Daniel Moi’s preferred 2002 choice, Uhuru.
“Raila has gone to bed with all the political players in the last 20 years, whether foes or allies. I see the guy as a multiple alliance builder who doesn’t sway any opportunity,” Nyambuga said.
In his spectrum, Nyambuga argues, Raila is a risk-taker who will not hesitate to throw his hat in the ring – a face-off that Ruto’s wing has been keen on rooting before the perceived entry of Matiang’i.
“He is a critical risk-taker. I see him taking another risk this time around. All these alliances are for purposes of a ploy to grab power. This cannot be different from the other attempts.”
“He is not kingmaker. He is the king. He doesn’t know any king. What he has done to Kalonzo and Musalia is proof,” the don added.
The ODM boss does not have the luxury of having joyriders in his camp, or largely people who cannot take him anywhere, because time is not on his side.
Nyambuga says this is the reason Raila is reaching out to younger politicians such as Mutua, and lesser weights like Kivutha, and Ngilu.
“Alfred Mutua cannot threaten Raila by any chance. They cannot hold him at ransom. Those are not his political equals.”
All in all, there is a general acceptance that associating with Raila, as Nyambuga puts it; “gives you the penultimate game-changer status in society.”
In what may be slowly metamorphosing into full-blown political competition at the start of the year, the don says there are little surprises left ahead of 2022, all of which the ODM leader will remain a critical player.
“The game is out there. Jubilee guys will come Raila’s way. People like Kamanda and Waiguru are just front-runners. There are more coming. Whether they will be able to have weight is just another question that I can’t tell,” Nyambuga told the Star.
The thinking among the politburo in Mt Kenya is that region would go for a candidate they believe would carry on with Uhuru’s anti-corruption war.
To them, such a candidate would have to be one who is allied to the President who they say has clear evidence of his commitment to the war on graft.
Njagi Kumantha, the Democratic Party national organising secretary, says the leaders coalescing around Raila will deliver.
“Our people have suffered a lot under regimes bedeviled with corruption. They are likely to go for the person who will offer an alternative, which is none other than Raila Odinga,” the 2017 Embu governor aspirant said.
“It is a possibility that he is likely to be voted because people are wary of Ruto, who is associated with graft to a point he was labeled the high priest of corruption,” Kumantha said.
Arguing that it is still early for campaigns, the medic-cum-politician said Central, particularly Embu, may not entertain a leader tainted with graft allegations.
The Kikuyu Council of Elders, a key decision-making organ in the region, has also indicated it would follow Uhuru’s direction.
And for their part, the ODM top leadership says Raila will likely work with a position taken by the party – including on negotiations to form a government.
The party concedes that times have indeed changed as they were on a campaign mode at around this time during Uhuru’s first term.
Director of Elections Junet Mohamed, who is the Suna East MP, concurred with his party leader that it is too early and people are repositioning themselves.
He says a presidential candidate, as was the case of Nasa in 2017, can be settled on a month or two to the general election.
The lawmaker, however, gave the strongest signal that Raila is in for the long haul as far as 2022 politics would shape up.
“He is the leader of a party, a strong one in the country. That party definitely will have a candidate. Being the leader, he still occupies the seat and has the space of becoming the presidential candidate,” Junet said.
“It is going to be very difficult to ask whether Raila will run or not. He will ask which election? At this time, he is not focused on campaigning for the presidential election but is more focused on other issues like the BBI, bringing people together.”
“It is not possible to determine whether he will run or not. The only person who wants to be president is William Ruto who is running on his own in a race he doesn’t know,” Junet said.
ODM chairman John Mbadi told the Star the ODM leader cannot negotiate for a preferred candidate without involving the party.

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