Raila in Kibra as allies snub rallies

Raila rally

Supporters of Azimio leader Raila Odinga at Jacaranda grounds in Nairobi County on, January 29, 2023. He will hold another rally in Kibra, Nairobi, today.

Photo credit: Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

Opposition leader Raila Odinga was last night expected to jet back into the country to continue pressing President William Ruto to resign through his series of anti-government rallies.

Mr Odinga will today stage another public consultative forum at Kamukunji Grounds in Kibra, barely a day after the government miffed the opposition by scaling down the security detail of former president Uhuru Kenyatta.

Mr Odinga left the country on Monday for Nigeria to give a keynote address. He then headed to Senegal on Wednesday. He was set to leave Dakar last evening and return to Kenya, according to his handlers who spoke to the Sunday Nation.

Today’s rally will be the third by the opposition in Nairobi amid queries as to why some of Mr Odinga’s close allies have been boycotting the meetings.

The coalition is also said to be worried by the decision by some of its members to back Dr Ruto when it needs a united front.

The coalition has since planned a Parliamentary Group (PG) meeting on Thursday to come up with a strategy to counter Kenya Kwanza in Parliament. The PG is also expected to discuss how to handle the coalition’s lawmakers who have decamped. Parliament resumes its sittings on Tuesday next week.

The planned PG was confirmed by Jubilee Secretary-General Jeremiah Kioni and his ODM counterpart and Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna.

At least 11 Jubilee MPs have switched camps to support the government. At the same time, governors elected under Azimio have given the rallies a wide berth, including James Orengo (Siaya), Gladys Wanga (Homa Bay), Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o (Kisumu) Abdulswamad Nassir (Mombasa) and Mutula Kilonzo Jr (Makueni).

Other key figures who have not attended the first two rallies are ODM Chairman John Mbadi, Azimio Secretary-General Junet Mohammed, Jubilee Vice Chairman David Murathe and former Mombasa governor Hassan Joho.

Planned rallies

Mr Mbadi yesterday defended himself, saying some of the rallies were hurriedly convened, thereby locking out leaders outside Nairobi.

“We are part and parcel of the planned rallies and we will always be there to give our support. Some people were engaged outside Nairobi. There should be no concerns at all because we have a strong team of leaders in Nairobi to take charge of the rallies,” said Mr Mbadi.

National Assembly Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi said the absence of some of the coalition leaders was the least of their worries as Mr Odinga was more interested in engaging his supporters directly.

“As to why others are not attending, I think they are better placed to give their reasons. People attend rallies on their own volition. If one chooses not to attend it is their personal decision and it is not a course for alarm,” said Mr Wandayi.

Mr Wandayi and Mr Kioni yesterday told Azimio supporters to turn up in large numbers for today’s rally. 

The Sunday Nation has learnt that the call not to recognise the President is said to be unpopular among the elected leaders, especially governors who are pushing for joint projects.

Moi University don Masibo Lumala said Mr Odinga will not have it easy in convincing people that he won and that they should not recognise Dr Ruto as the President, while Dr Samuel Mbutu of the University of Nairobi said key allies of Mr Odinga could be skipping the rallies as a political strategy or because Azimio supporters will demand answers from them over the coalition’s loss.

According to sources within the Odinga-led coalition, a majority of the coalition officials and members want the outfit to focus on the high cost of living that resonates well with the majority poor.

“Just the other day, he (Raila) told us to welcome President Ruto in our backyard but now the same person is telling us not to recognize him. How is that possible? Let us go to the people with real issues affecting them such as the high cost of living which the president promised to lower but instead skyrocketed and people are suffering including their own supporters,” said an official.

There are also murmurs within Azimio over the numbers being presented by the whistleblower saying they are not authentic.

“Who can believe those numbers, even our own opinion polls that we conducted within Azimio showed that although our candidate was ahead, the contest was close. So there is no way we can tell people that Raila beat Ruto with over 2 million votes,” said a source. 

According to Azimio, in its fresh claims of the outcome of the August 9 elections, the coalition says Mr Odinga garnered 8,170,353 representing 57.3 percent while Ruto garnered 5,915,973 representing 41.66 percent.

When Dr Ruto was declared President-elect, IEBC said he had garnered 50.49 percent of the vote against Mr Odinga's 48.5 percent.

Discrediting President Ruto

Others in the coalition also feel that those who took leading role and excluded others during campaigns in the run up to the August poll should also be at the forefront in the rallies aimed at discrediting President Ruto.

Those against the call on non-recognition of Dr Ruto Presidency also point out it cannot attract international attention because they have already recognized him and have even been invited to various international forums.

Moi University don Masibo Lumala said Mr Odinga will not have it easy in convincing people at the moment that he won and that they should not recognize Dr Ruto as the President.

“The water is now already under the bridge, it will be difficult to tell the people that Ruto did not win. He has already been sworn in and accepted internationally,” Dr Lumala said.

Dr Samuel Mbutu from the University of Nairobi said key allies of Mr Odinga could be skipping the rallies as a political strategy or because Azimio supporters will demand answers from them over the poll loss.

“The likely possibilities on why they are skipping the rallies could be that they have got something serious to explain or address to the Azimio family over the Azimio's loss of the August 2022 general elections, they will not be quiet forever. At some point they will come out and their political stand will be known.” Dr Mbutu said.

“Perhaps they could even be considering a defection to the side where the bread is well buttered. In politics there are no permanent friends or permanent enemies, but permanent interests,” Dr Mbutu added.

Instead, the county bosses have been holding meetings with Dr Ruto’s cabinet secretaries in an open defiance to Mr Odinga’s pronouncement that the opposition does not recognise Dr Ruto and his government.


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