ODM formally endorses Raila

ODM party leader Raila Odinga (centre) with the party's certificate for vying for the presidency in the 2017 General Election in this photograph taken at Safaricom Indoor Arena in Nairobi on May 5, 2017. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • At the party’s National Delegates Conference, Mr Odinga sat in between his running mate Mr Kalonzo Musyoka and the proposed Premier Cabinet Secretary Mr Musalia Mudavadi in an arrangement that appeared to echo presidential protocol.

  • Following Friday’s endorsement, Mr Odinga’s name will now be presented to the independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission in line with electoral requirements. That effectively clears his name to be on the presidential ballot.

ODM on Friday formally endorsed Mr Raila Odinga to seek the country’s presidency one week after leaders of the joint Opposition alliance Nasa rallied behind him.

At the party’s National Delegates Conference held at the Kasarani Gymnasium in Nairobi, Mr Odinga sat in between his running mate Mr Kalonzo Musyoka and the proposed Premier Cabinet Secretary Mr Musalia Mudavadi in an arrangement that appeared to echo presidential protocol.

Following Friday’s endorsement, Mr Odinga’s name will now be presented to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) in line with electoral requirements. That effectively clears his name to be on the presidential ballot.

Mr Odinga pledged to fight corruption, bring down the cost of food, reduce the national debt and unite the country if he is elected on August 8.

He told the delegates that he was ready to liberate the country from Jubilee’s poor leadership that “has left many Kenyans struggling with high cost of living”.

“The cost of living is beyond reach for millions of our citizens, from the price of unga, bread and milk, to bus fare to rent and paraffin. The cost of everything has gone through the roof,” he said.

He said that he was committed to uniting the country and fighting tribalism and nepotism, which he said, has characterised the last four years under Jubilee.

Former MPs Koigi wa Wamwere and Kirugi M’Mukindia, who defected from the Jubilee Party to the opposition alliance two days ago, said it was the turn of Mt Kenya voters to support Mr Odinga as a positive gesture of appreciation for his past support.

They said Mr Odinga’s father, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, rooted for Jomo Kenyatta to be the country’s first president whereas Mr Raila Odinga played a key role in Mr Mwai Kibaki’s election in 2013, with his endorsement call ‘Kibaki Tosha’.

“Oginga declined the presidency in favour of Kenyatta. Raila said ‘Kibaki Tosha’. It is time for Kikuyus to also allow Raila to lead the country,” Mr wa Wamwere said.

Mr M’Mukindia, a former Imenti Central MP, criticised the government portal launched recently by President Kenyatta, saying it featured development projects that do not exist on the ground.

“The time to pay our political debts is now. Mt Kenya people have benefited tremendously from the rule of Jomo and Kibaki. Today, I call upon you to say Raila Tosha,” he said amid cheers from the delegates.

CASTIGATED COMMISSION

Mr Odinga, Mr Musyoka and Mr Mudavadi castigated the electoral commission for contesting a requirement that votes tallied at the constituency level be declared as final. They said the appeal by IEBC was sending the wrong signals that the commission was not keen to deliver a credible poll.

They questioned why IEBC was opposed to a system that is catered for in the Constitution.

Mr Mudavadi said elections are a threat to national security and the IEBC as a referee must ensure it sticks to the rules of the game.

“We don’t want IEBC to joke with us. Jubilee must go home in a democratic way. We don’t want a run-off, we want a one-off,” he said.

Mr Odinga echoed the sentiments, saying the Opposition was not ready for a bungled General Election.

“We will not allow anybody to steal elections in August,” he said. “If you love this country, do not contemplate. Don’t imagine to steal election. We will not allow you to get away with it.”

Mr Musyoka warned that the Opposition will not allow a repeat of 2013 when their victory was “stolen”.

“This time we have sealed all the loopholes, starting with the sending off of the IEBC commissioners. Vote theft will not be allowed,” Mr Musyoka said.

BE VIGILANT

He appealed to agents and all those in charge of safeguarding opposition votes across the country to be vigilant.

“This is time for serious planning, from campaign managers to polling agents across the country. Time for changing Kenya is now,” he said. He appealed to those who vied for various positions in the just concluded party primaries to close ranks and work as a team towards the common purpose of sending Jubilee home.

“I urge that we put the nomination contest behind us and train our eyes squarely on the prize,” he said.

The leaders said the Opposition will respect those who have opted to contest as independent candidates as this was within their constitutional rights.

“I however urge that we embark on a campaign characterised by civility and decorum. We must always remember that the enemy is not within ODM or Nasa but on the other side,” Mr Odinga said after he had been handed his nomination certificate by the party’s chairman, Mr John Mbadi and Secretary-General Agnes Zani among other officials.

Mr Wetang’ula, who is out of the country, and Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto, who had a prior commitment, did not attend Friday’s event. Their apologies were conveyed by Mr Mudavadi.

Additional reporting by Brian Okinda.

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