After bruising Supreme Court defeat, Raila re-emerges to face political foes

Azimio leader Raila Odinga. He is showing now signs of quitting the national stage just yet after losing to President William Ruto in the August 9 polls.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group.

What you need to know:

  • Mr Odinga's initial silence after the swearing-in of Dr Ruto on September 13 suggested that the 77-year-old had decided to hang up his political boots.
  • But it now seems the man who was poised to succeed Uhuru Kenyatta has dusted himself up and is preparing to face his "enemies".
  • Mr Odinga accused the Judiciary of participating in a scheme to undermine democracy and blamed the Koome team for attempting to silence alternative voices that do not agree with its decision to uphold President Ruto’s election.


After the Supreme Court ruling that affirmed President William Ruto’s win in last month’s presidential election, Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition party leader Raila Odinga is at a crossroads.

Mr Odinga's initial silence after the swearing-in of Dr Ruto on September 13 suggested that the 77-year-old had decided to hang up his political boots.

But it now seems the man who was poised to succeed Uhuru Kenyatta has dusted himself up and is preparing to face his "enemies".

Chief Justice Martha Koome, who read the judgment on behalf of her colleagues, dismissed all claims raised by Azimio in its petition challenging Dr Ruto’s win, describing some as "hot air, forgeries and red herrings".

However, Mr Odinga’s first public appearance since the Supreme Court declaration showed signs that it is back to the grind for the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader, who has influenced and dominated Kenya's political landscape since 1997 when he first contested the top seat.

In his response Thursday, Mr Odinga accused the Judiciary of participating in a scheme to undermine democracy.

Describing the Judiciary as “rogue”, he blamed the Koome team for attempting to silence alternative voices that do not agree with its decision to uphold President Ruto’s election.

"Shame on the Judiciary. This judicial thuggery must end. We will not be cowed. Nyayo tried it and we resisted and the courts cannot allow another dictator in the country,” he said in Mombasa last Thursday.

A million-man-march

“The Judiciary should not threaten and blackmail us. We said we respect their decision but do not agree with it. If they become rogue, we have the power as the people of this country to reform them and send them home.

“We can lead a million-man march to the Judiciary and they will have no choice but to go home.”

The opposition leader, who revealed that he had been on vacation with his family in Zanzibar to recuperate from the shock of his defeat, said Azimio was waiting for the court to issue its detailed ruling before announcing his next move.

While Mr Odinga has kept his supporters solidly behind his bids for President in the last five attempts, it is unclear if he will make a sixth attempt in 2027.

But opinion is divided on whether it is time for the son of the country's first vice-president, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, to call it quits and hand over the baton to someone else to steer the Luo nation forward.

Since the death of his father in 1994, he has been the undisputed symbol of Luo unity.

Among those who want him to retire is former Migori governor Zachary Okoth Obado.

Mr Obado, who left ODM to work with Dr Ruto, says the Luo community needs to change tack as the presidency has long eluded the Odinga dynasty.

Just like his father, who fell out with Kenya’s founding President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta in 1966, Mr Odinga’s attempts to capture power fell flat when he vied against President Daniel Arap Moi in 1992, Mr Obado said.

“Raila’s contribution to democracy in this country can never go unnoticed and that is why we recognise his sacrifice as a Luo community, country, continent and the globe,” he said.

“But he has run the race, which is a relay, and it is now time to let go and hand over the baton to a new generation.”

Mr Odinga’s work and sacrifice will be etched in the history of the country, he said and wished him a peaceful life in retirement.

Welcome!

You're all set to enjoy unlimited Prime content.