Raila Odinga backs down on ‘weak’ candidates

Raila Odinga

Azimio presidential candidate Raila Odinga during a campaign rally in Siaya County. Mr Odinga asked residents not to embarrass him by failing to elect ODM candidates. Tonny Omondi

Photo credit: Tonny Omondi | Nation Media Group

Azimio presidential candidate Raila Odinga has said no candidate will be forced to drop out of the race but cautioned that sibling rivalry could deny the coalition some seats.

He pointed out that the strategy is meant to consolidate votes in favour of Azimio candidates and ensure they secure a majority of seats at the county and national levels. 

“As 24 parties within the coalition, we realise that having multiple candidates vie for the same seat could cost us in areas where we have over 70 per cent support,” he said.

Mr Odinga, who spoke during an interview with vernacular radio stations yesterday, said the proposal was agreed upon by the constituent parties to edge out what he termed as infiltration by Deputy President William Ruto-led Kenya Kwanza coalition.

“For some of the seats, Azimio has four to five candidates while our competitors have only presented one. This could see us lose seats which we could otherwise easily have taken if we agreed as a team,” said Mr Odinga.

  According to the plan, he pointed out that Jubilee and Narc Kenya were left to field candidates in Central Kenya while ODM, Jubilee and Wiper agreed to share seats in Nairobi, among other regions. 

 He, however, noted that the coalition will not force anyone to step down.

 “This is voluntary and those who are not willing to withdraw can go ahead and contest in the General Election,” he said.

Yesterday, Mr Odinga took his campaigns to Siaya County, asking residents to back him and ODM candidates.

“I have walked extensively in Kenya seeking support and my candidature has been endorsed by the majority from other regions. I must tell you that they are keenly watching what my people are going to do come August 9.

“You should not disappoint me by failing to elect ODM candidates,” said Mr Odinga while addressing a rally at Kamkunji grounds in Gem constituency.

He went on: “You people know that you are my in-laws and I am so humbled when addressing you. Remember to support me in this very important course.”

Mr Odinga’s sentiments come at a time when ODM candidates are having a rough time campaigning in Siaya.

“Imagine after the August polls and the Azimio coalition principals sit down to talk on the way forward and then Mr Odinga presents a few elected leaders, please picture that embarrassment. Kindly let’s vote for the ODM candidates,” said Suba South MP John Mbadi.

Siaya Senator James Orengo said: “Let’s give Mr Odinga a gun and the bullets. Don’t expose him, give him numerical strength to get an easy time when he becomes the president after the August polls.”

While addressing a rally in Ugunja, Mr Odinga was crowned a Luo warrior and received blessings from elders.

Mr Odinga committed to implement recommendations of the sugar taskforce report to revive the ailing industry. He said his administration will reduce VAT in order to lower the cost of basic commodities.