The Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition party’s presidential candidate Raila Odinga is expected to unveil his running mate in the August election at a political jamboree tomorrow at the historic Kamukunji Grounds in Nairobi.
Top Azimio officials yesterday confirmed to the Saturday Nation that the ODM party boss was “highly likely” to use the platform to name his deputy ahead of the Monday deadline set by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
This is even as the ODM party leader yesterday continued with his campaigns at the Coast, where he asked voters to reject rebels and vote in leaders who would guarantee the Azimio coalition party a victory in the upcoming elections.
Speaking in Kwale County, Mr Odinga said that the victory of his preferred candidates would be a win for the Orange party and the Azimio coalition and would act as a warning shot to those who abandoned him, including deputy president William Ruto.
“They moved to our opponents where they now want to revive the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI). They have even introduced the position of Prime Cabinet Secretary. That is hypocrisy of the highest order.”
“Reject such politicians and their followers including those who have ditched our camp. That is the only way we can politically fight Azimio and ODM’s authority in the Coast,” Mr Odinga added.
And in the rally scheduled for Sunday, allies of the Orange party leader said that Mr Odinga will use the occasion to spell out part of his manifesto as well as to parade the Azimio national line-up. This, they said, will include the unveiling of a running mate ahead of the election.
The officials who spoke to Saturday Nation billed the meeting as a significant event, which will set the tempo for the presidential race as well as mark the official start of the national and countrywide campaigns for the coalition party.
“It is possible (that Mr Odinga could unveil his running mate at the rally). It is not something that we have discussed but because he has since received the names it is something he can consider,” said Mr Ndiritu Muriithi, Head of Mr Odinga’s presidential campaign board and Laikipia governor.
He added: “We are looking forward to it because it is a significant rally and the beginning of our formal campaigns. We are increasingly unveiling our manifesto and we can expect more of that on Sunday. You will see a galaxy of Azimio leaders also being unveiled.” Similar suggestions were made by Jubilee party vice-chairman David Murathe, Azimio executive director Raphael Tuju and Suna East MP Junet Mohamed.
“If it (rally) is attended by the candidate, Raila, then is free to make any announcement he wants,” said Mr Tuju.
Mr Murathe said that it was “highly likely” that Mr Odinga could unveil his running mate on Sunday, adding that such an announcement could even be made earlier .
The Sunday rally was initially planned to be used as a platform to unveil the Azimio line-up in Nairobi and to respond to the political grumbling triggered by the decision of the coalition to edge out Westland MP Tim Wanyonyi in favour of Johnny-come-lately Polycarp Igathe.
“It is going to be a big rally to launch the Nairobi campaign team and the lineup of our candidates in the capital city. We have invited key people to attend,” said Mr Mohamed.
And in Kwale, Mr Odinga accused governors Amason Kingi (Kilifi), Salim Mvuyra (Kwale), MPs Aisha Jumwa (Malindi) and Owen Baya (Kilifi North) of betraying the people of the Coast by supporting Dr Ruto.
He said that before Mr Kingi severed links with ODM, they had disagreed about Mr Kingi’s plans to form a Coast-based party.
The political heat in Coast politics will climb to a new high today as Mr Odinga stages what is expected to be a political show of might with a rally at the Mkomani grounds in Mombasa.
Meanwhile, the Azimio coalition shifted today’s planned rally at Tononoka grounds in Mombasa to Mkomani for fear of interference by their competitors.
Mombasa ODM governor aspirant Abdulswamad Nassir could not give more details of the reasons of shifting the rally and downplayed allegations of violence.
Reporting by Moses Nyamori, Kennedy Kimanthi, Maureen Ongala and Anthony Kitimo