We’re not forcing you to join us, Raila tells OKA

ODM leader Raila Odinga

ODM leader Raila Odinga addressed journalists in Lavington, Nairobi on March 7, 2022 after holding a meeting with ODM MCAs from Murang’a.

Photo credit: Lucy Wanjiru | Nation Media Group

ODM leader Raila Odinga Monday said One Kenya Alliance leaders, who are still dilly-dallying on whether or not they should join Azimio La Umoja, should stay away from the delegates’ meeting on Saturday.

Speaking in Nairobi Monday, the former Prime Minister said nobody was being forced to join the movement, in reference to the hard-line stance taken by Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka on coalition talks.

‘The meeting is open’

“If you feel you’re being forced, don’t come. Nobody is being forced into Azimio. It’s a coalition of the willing. The meeting is open to all those who are willing. I will deal with those who are willing to work with us,” he said.

ODM sources said Mr Odinga has given up on talks with Mr Musyoka and has left the matter to President Kenyatta to handle.

The former Prime Minister, who is widely expected to be declared the Azimio presidential candidate, said parties who subscribe to the coalition’s ideology will sign up on Saturday.

“We’re not expecting any guests. What will happen is that there will be forms that willing parties ready to work with Azimio will sign,” Mr Odinga said.

2017 elections pact

Last week, Mr Musyoka cited a secret 2017 elections pact that he said bound the ODM leader to back him for the top job in 2022. The Wiper leader said failure by Mr Odinga to back him in the forthcoming polls would be “the ultimate deal breaker”.

He added that while he was still willing to work with Mr Odinga, the 2017 deal “must be honoured first”.

OKA, which comprises Mr Musyoka, Kanu chairman Gideon Moi, Narc-Kenya leader Martha Karua and United Democratic Party chief Cyrus Jirongo, is expected to choose its presidential candidate later this month.

Mr Odinga received Ward Reps from Murang’a County Assembly who had quit Deputy President William Ruto’s camp to join Azimio. He was accompanied by former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth and MPs Wangari Mwaniki (Kigumo), Peter Kimari (Mathioya) and Joseph Nduati (Gatanga).

Mr Kenneth said MCA’s defection was an indication that Mr Odinga’s support base is growing in Mt Kenya. “If 28 MCAs out of 53 in the assembly are supporting Mr Odinga for the presidency, then that is a clear indication that Murang’a is in Azimio,” he said.

Goodwill

Murang’a deputy speaker Samuel Mwangi said the ODM leader has the goodwill of the country.

“A majority of our members will go to the grassroots to root for Raila... When you look at the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) that he championed, it was good for this country compared to the bottom-up approach,” he said.

Mr Kenneth dismissed claims that Mr Odinga is under pressure from Mt Kenya leaders to pick his running mate from the region.

Support base

“We’re supporting Mr Odinga without any conditions and he is not under any pressure to pick a running mate from Mt Kenya. All we’re interested in at the moment is to consolidate our support base and that is why you see us moving around the country,” he said.

Mr Kenneth, Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui and Laikipia’s Ndiritu Muriithi are the frontrunners for the position. Mr Muriithi is the chairman of Odinga’s campaign team. The three leaders have been visible in Mr Odinga’s campaigns and have been favoured in protocol on several occasions.


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