I will bring handshake to Ruto, Raila says in final Azimio rally

Raila Odinga at Kasarani

Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Presidential candidate Raila Odinga addresses supporters at Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani on August 6, 2022 during the coalition's last campaign rally before elections.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition presidential candidate, Raila Odinga, on Saturday made his final submission to the country with a call to Kenyans to vote for him on Tuesday even as he pledged to continue with the spirit of the handshake and shake hands with either the winner or the loser of the election.

Speaking to thousands of his supporters who had turned up at the Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani to listen to his final speech, Mr Odinga said the country was at an “inflection point”.

Mr Odinga said that Kenyans will on Tuesday have a chance to decide on their destiny, adding that the Azimio coalition is the only ticket able to protect the gains of previous administration while also fighting for a better future for all.

“Fellow Kenyans, Wangari and Amolo are not simply running to win an election. We are running to make Kenya a first-class global democracy and economy. We are running to build a Kenya of hope and opportunity, a Kenya not of 45 individual tribes but one big Kenyan tribe.

“By voting in our next deputy president Madam Martha Wangari Karua, you will have a complete army to fight for you and our country. That is something you won’t find on the other side. There are neither fighters nor the fighting spirit on the other side,” Mr Odinga said.

The ODM leader made his submissions at an event that was marked with pomp and colour as leaders allied to the Azimio coalition and supporters turned up in numbers to listen to him.

Mr Odinga was accompanied by his wife Ida, members of his family, his running mate Martha Karua and a host of leaders allied to the Azimio team.

Canaan

He said that his team had the key to the promised land of Canaan where there will be abundance and forgiveness and reconciliation will be a priority.

“In Canaan, we must embrace reconciliation. I want to assure Kenyans that I will continue with this handshake doctrine, the doctrine of unclenching the fist. For the sake of Kenya, I will shake the hand of my rivals and pay the political price if I have to,” Mr Odinga said.

“I will shake their hand if I win. And I will shake their hand if I don’t. And I will do it because I love Kenya more than I love Raila Amolo Odinga,” he added.

It was a colourful day for the Azimio team as Mr Odinga walked to the podium, to face a stadium full of his loyalists, in what served as his last rally before the country heads to election.

The ODM party leader was greeted with a cheery and expectant yet restless crowd. Over the last couple of months, he and his team have traversed the terrains, from his lakeside backyard, to the Coastal region.

And today, he was facing a people familiar with his message, yet this time, he was asking them to crown him by voting “blue” on Tuesday.

Dubbed Firimbi Fest, in what served to be his last rally, it was the culmination of months of countrywide campaigns of crisscrossing the country, ending it, just where it began.

Under clear skies after a humid day, a near full Kasarani stadium was a hodgepodge of Azimio affiliated senators, delegates, party bigwigs, celebrities, political tourists, teenage volunteers and older voters – many of them watching a moment they had thought they would never witness. Some who showed up in the morning hours, had waited for more than five hours in baking heat in the stadium.

Mr Odinga made his way into the stadium at 2.34pm, to which he was greeted with a rapturous reception. Then a close to 10-minute lap of honour ushered him to a people who had waited for him since morning.

The last time that the ODM party leader was at the stadium was last year when he announced his candidature for the presidency.

The Handshake

In his speech, Mr Odinga relived the handshake between him and President Uhuru Kenyatta –and the previous handshakes he has had with former presidents in 2002 and 2008, saying he would not mind embracing “statesmanship” and shaking a hand of the rival even if he would pay the price.

He said that Kenyans on Tuesday Kenyans will have a chance to either redeem the country from the bondages of corruption and economic ruin or continue on the same path through the ballot.

“As you go to the ballot on Tuesday, I want you to know that we as a country are at inflection point. Either something very good will happen, or something terrible will happen.

“We have a choice of the promised land, but the land of bondage is also within sight. The pharaoh is refusing to let our people go,” Mr Odinga said.

He said that the Tuesday vote will mark the completion of a journey he begun to liberate the country, one which intends to create opportunities and secure the better future for all Kenyans. 

“I must also remind Kenyans that we started this struggle on Saba Saba Day; the 7th day of the 7th month of 1990. On the 7th multiparty election on Tuesday, we will mark the year of completion and new beginnings.

“On that day, we declared that the walls of dictatorship must fall. The walls of corruption must fall. And the walls of impunity, injustice and exclusion must fall,” Mr Odinga said.

Both Ms Karua and Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka said the Tuesday election marks an important day for the country and asked Kenyans to turn out in large numbers and vote.

“Nobody is as qualified to be the President of this country than Raila Odinga. Now it is your time to vote him in as the fifth president. Let us save this country through our votes, from cartels and people who have stolen from us,” said Ms Karua.

Mr Musyoka said: “This time, Raila Odinga has no opposition to his bid. I want to ask Ruto and Rigathi to read the times and concede. We have walked with Raila Odinga to all corners of Kenyan in search of votes. I want to tell my brother that I have done my best. This is a sure bet. And I want to say that nobody, not even Chebukati will be able to steal the votes of Raila Odinga.”

Karua backyard

Earlier on, Ms Karua held her last campaign rally in her Kirinyaga backyard and made a last passionate appeal to Mount Kenya residents to vote for Raila Odinga.

She exuded confidence that with the support of Kenyans, Mr Odinga will win the polls in the first round and become the fifth President of Kenya.

The Narc-Kenya party leader promised that the Odinga-led government was fully prepared to reform all sectors in the country, including the health sector where services have been at the lowest for the benefits of all Kenyans.

“The Azimio government will ensure that hospitals are well equipped with drugs and that all Kenyans access medical treatment without any problem,” Ms Karua said at Kirigo Primary School.

“We have gone round the country and Kenyans have received us very well. We have been accepted by Kenyans across the country,” she added.

Mr Odinga said that the country faces one important question before the Tuesday election, that of who has the safest pair of hands to drive the country to prosperity and safeguard the interest of all Kenyans.

“When you look at your children, who do you feel will really make sure that you have the ability to give them the best that they deserve? Who do you feel will ensure the unity of the country no matter the election results? Is it the man who shook the hand of his bitter rival and brought national reconciliation and healing or the hand of the warmonger who is a deviant and a convicted thief?” Mr Odinga said.

Additional reporting by George Munene

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