Raila Odinga
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Exclusive: Raila Odinga planning new coalition ahead of 2027

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Opposition leader Raila Odinga. 

Photo credit: Pool

Azimio la Umoja One Kenya leader Raila Odinga is scouting for new political allies for a possible new coalition for purposes of the 2027 elections.

Mr Odinga’s close ally and National Assembly Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi has disclosed that Azimio is set for major political realignments that could lead to its renaming before the next General Election.

Speaking in a wide-ranging interview with the Nation, Mr Wandayi said they would back Mr Odinga if he chooses to run again for the presidency.

He made the disclosure on a day two Azimio principals—Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka and Narc Kenya’s Martha Karua—publicly differed over Kamwene, a political forum for opposition leaders from Mt Kenya.

In the interview, Mr Wandayi said the expected realignments could bring in new allies, leading into a new and bigger coalition.

Mr Odinga recently held a meeting with Safina Party 2022 presidential aspirant Jimmy Wanjigi.

Jimi Wanjigi

City billionaire Jimi Wanjigi (right) and Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga during a past event.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Your party leader Raila Odinga described Parliament as an appendage of the Executive. Have you failed as part of the House leadership?

I have had the advantage of being in the 11th, 12th and 13th Parliaments and I have seen how over that period of time it has undergone transformation. The problem we have with our version of democracy as a country is that we hold elections for different positions at the same time.

Immediately one is declared president-elect, the power balance shifts instantly in his favour and his party. So you see a very clear shift of allegiance by members of Parliament to the ruling alliance. So that the general landscape, politically speaking, of Parliament gets changed in a very significant way.

We have seen deliberate efforts by those who are in the Executive once they have been proclaimed so to try and scuttle the progression of our democracy and this is something that should worry all of us.

Parliament is an institution, regardless of the coalition one belongs to. It is has oversight over the Executive and Judiciary.

Residual powers of the presidency have continued to remain a very strong allure to MPs.

Who is to blame for the alleged capture of Parliament?

MPs make it easy for the Executive to capture them because they tend to gravitate to it as a way of getting favours, which I find very wrong. Because first and foremost, Parliament under this constitution has the responsibility to pass a budget and no development project can take off unless it is budgeted for. That budgeting duty or role lies with Parliament. It is a contradiction of sorts that you want to rush to the presidency, State House or the Executive to seek development which the constitution has given you a mandate to budget for. So as we address the inherent weaknesses, the apparent weaknesses of Parliament, we’ll need to interrogate our value system.

Does this mean that our MPs, and political parties have no ideologies and values they stand for?

It is a combination of many things and I do not want to blame political parties. ODM and other parties are really working hard to instil discipline within their ranks. But the point I was driving is, as a minority coalition, we take it upon ourselves to play our role consistently without fear or favour. Despite the fact that it is not possible for us to win votes in the House, what is very critical is that on each and every issue, we must be able to express our views robustly, clearly and without fear.

As you have seen in most of these instances and of course the now famous Finance Bill 2023, the vote went the way it went but that did not take away the issues we raised. Indeed, none other than the High Court has vindicated us.

National Assembly Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi

Leader of Minority in the National Assembly Opiyo Wandayi during an interview at his offices at Parliament buildings in Nairobi on January 9, 2024.

Photo credit: Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

Has the 13th Parliament lived up to the expectations of Kenyans?

It depends from the standpoint one is making the assessment. But one thing that is not in dispute is that out there the public confidence in Parliament and especially this particular Parliament is slowly but surely waning.

So something has to be done. It is upon Parliament itself as an institution to carry out an introspection to try and establish where the rain started beating us.

Is the minority doing its part in making Parliament regain the confidence of Kenyans?

It is in the public domain that we have made very serious recommendations and proposals on what needs to be done to address the issue of the cost of living even before we went to the National Dialogue Committee (Nadco). All that we have been saving from January 2023 up to now, we condensed into a paper. So when we were at the Nadco, we presented our paper that contained all these progressive proposals.

Despite those proposals being very meaningful and despite the fact that we meant extremely well, our colleagues on the other side did not buy them. And they have a right not to buy them wholesome and that is the point of departure between us and them.

We did agreed as a coalition that since the Kenya Kwanza coalition has agreed that the matter of the cost of living rests squarely on their shoulders, let them deal with it in the manner they deem fit.

But we did say that leaving the matter of cost of living to Kenya Kwanza does not mean that we shall keep quiet about it. That we shall continue to remind them, time and again, that the cost of living is choking Kenyans, that Kenyans are burdened with unnecessary taxes, that you must do something as a matter of duty to reduce the burden on Kenyans.

They have to deal with it soonest, because what I’m seeing out there is not very good. This thing can literally spark a revolution. This is not idle talk; I was in Ruiru on Sunday and the anger is palpable.

Raila wants Ruto to address the cost of living

Is the public discontent to Azimio’s advantage?

I can’t be that simplistic, that the suffering of our people can be to our advantage. Those who are suffering out there also include Azimio supporters. So we can’t be happy when they are suffering even if that suffering is going to disadvantage Kenya Kwanza politically.

The suffering of the Kenyan people must be addressed by those who are in power, that is our position. The issue of how we shall get votes in the coming elections we shall deal with it in our normal way.

Kalonzo Musyoka: I would be stupid to support Raila again

What is the general feeling within Azimio about the Nadco report?

What is critical and must be understood by Kenyans is that the democratic gains that were made or achieved as a country over time, have been made or achieved incrementally.

So, we continue to make one step at a time. And that is why we were in Bomas for Nadco.

Even though we might have wanted much more to come out of the deliberations, we did achieve something but not the very vital question of the cost of living. There are a number of gains but there are also things that we wanted to be there which are not there.

The Azimio Parliamentary group adopted the report with all the recommendations. The report, being a negotiated document, requires political goodwill from both sides for ease of implementation. World over, such documents are not open to amendments, otherwise then you will lose the momentum.

That is the spirit that we hope is going to guide Parliament, when we convene to debate the report and possibly have it adopted.

Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua and her DAP-K counterpart Eugene Wamalwa have rejected the report. What does this mean?

Even if it is true that one or two leaders within Azimio have expressed opposing views about the Nadco report, that is within their democratic right.

It is also a sign of democracy within the Azimio coalition itself, that we can’t all be thinking in the same manner on every single issue. It is very healthy if you ask me that we would have dissenting opinions on an issue such as the Nadco report.

Some, like honourable Martha Karua and Eugene Wamalwa felt that Nadco should have taken a clear position on the cost of living and addressed it. Some of us are of the view that we did as much as we could as Azimio and eventually we left it for Kenya Kwanza to deal with it as we continue to talk about it.

People should also understand that the moment the report was tabled in Parliament, in early December, the train took off as it were. It is now essentially a property of Parliament. So we do not foresee any problem.

Your party leader Raila has unsuccessfully contested five times. Would you consider backing a different candidate in 2027?

There is no limit in terms of how many times one can contest. You can contest even a hundred times. And it must be corrected that my party leader has not lost all those elections.

So the question of the number of times Raila has contested the presidency is immaterial because that decision rests squarely with him. If he chooses to contest you know evidently as one of his ardent supporters, one of his foot soldiers, one of his political students, I will support him.

Back Kalonzo for presidency or we cut ties, Wavinya tells Raila

Wiper Leader Kalonzo Musyoka has said he cannot back Raila again?

Even as we speak you might know another person who might be harbouring plans to contest on Azimio, apart from Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka.

So as a political coalition, it is our view that once the opposition makes a decision at an opportune time as to who shall fly the flag, we shall support that person wholeheartedly.

We are going to support whoever is going to be picked to fly the Azimio flag. It could be Azimio, it could be something else, but again you know that 2027 is still very far.

The political landscape is going to change; there will be alignments and realignments between now and the next election. Azimio might evolve to be a much bigger movement that could even be renamed something else.

Raila Odinga has more than the capacity to be the president of the country. Kalonzo Musyoka also has the credentials and so are many others within the Azimio coalition.

ODM leadership

ODM party leader Raila Odinga with party Chairman John Mbadi (L) and party Secretary General Edwin Sifuna during the ODM National Governing Council meeting held in Nairobi on March 1, 2019.

Photo credit: File

When is ODM planning to conduct its grassroots elections?

We did announce late last year that we want to continue with these membership recruitment drives and come March we shall review the situation.

Our target is that after this massive membership recruitment, we shall hold the grassroots election. This will happen definitely in quarter two of this year.