Raila should not quit politics: Uhuru’s ally

ODM leader Raila Odinga addresses mourners during the burial service of Aketch Chieng' in Ndhiwa, Homa Bay County, on October 19, 2018. PHOTO | TONNY OMONDI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • Mr Odinga has been appointed as the AU Special Representative in charge of Infrastructure.
  • Some Jubilee leaders believe the appointment had cleared the way for DP William Ruto to clinch the presidency in 2022.

  • But ODM leaders came out guns blazing, maintaining that Mr Odinga’s new role has nothing to do with his leadership of Opposition.

President Uhuru Kenyatta's top ally David Murathe on Monday dismissed calls by Jubilee leaders to have Opposition leader Raila Odinga quit politics in the wake of his new job in the African Union.

He said Mr Odinga's appointment as an AU Special Representative in charge of Infrastructure could only raise his stature and increase his relevance in local politics.

“How many people have taken advantage of these international jobs to vie for local posts? What can stop Raila from running for any elective seat?” asked Mr Murathe, the Jubilee vice-chairman.

CONTRAST

“If Raila uses the unity deal between him and the President to run for leadership, that is none of our business. We must, however, say that we are proud as a country because one of our own is now in charge of infrastructural development in Africa,” he added.

Mr Murathe's position is in contrast to that of some leaders in his party who have called on Mr Odinga to concentrate on his new job and forget about local politics.

MPs Robert Pkose (Endebess), Didmus Barasa (Kimilili), Oscar Sudi (Kapseret), West Pokot woman representative Lillian Tomitom and Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata yesterday said Mr Odinga's international appointment had cleared the way for Deputy President William Ruto to clinch the presidency in 2022.

OPPOSITION

“He will be traversing the continent as a diplomat. Local politics would undermine that position. I expect him to assume the position of a statesman and rise above the local fray,” Mr Kang’ata told Nation.

But ODM leaders came out guns blazing, maintaining that Mr Odinga’s new role has nothing to do with his leadership of Opposition.

Siaya Senator James Orengo said the new job only enhances Mr Odinga’s role in building bridges and bringing peace and respect for human rights and the rule of law in the continent.

STATESMANSHIP

“It does not take away in any form or shape his current political status in Kenya and his political state in the rest of the world. I am excited that his statesmanship has been recognised even as he remains active in politics,” said the Senate minority leader.

ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna, national chairman John Mbadi, secretary of political affairs Opiyo Wandayi, Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo and his Rangwe counterpart Lilian Gogo weighed in, saying Mr Odinga will not retire from local politics soon.

MULTITASKING

Mr Sifuna said Mr Odinga is an active leader capable of multitasking, adding: “It is not our problem that those pushing for Raila’s retirement cannot multitask like him. Raila will continue playing his role in Kenyan politics even if he is appointed the planet's ambassador to the galaxy.”

Mr Mbadi said: “Political rights are inalienable rights that you cannot limit. That appointment cannot in any way force him (Raila) to quit local politics. He has immense time to do so. His role in infrastructural development in Africa is merely advisory.”

REVOLUTIONARY

He went on: “He will go nowhere and those scared of him must know this. Their behaviour shows they fear Raila’s participation in local politics.”

Mr Wandayi said nobody invited Mr Odinga to politics and “as such, nobody can dictate to him when to retire”. “If Africa needs Odinga, then Kenya needs him even more. Mr Odinga is a revolutionary and a freedom fighter. Revolutionaries never retire,” added the Ugunja MP.

Dr Amollo said the leaders calling on Mr Odinga to quite politics are only making statements that are “unfounded, ill-conceived and without precedence”.

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