Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition presidential candidate Raila Odinga Wednesday made a passionate appeal to the 2.2 million voters in Western region to back him, warning them against gambling by supporting his opponents in the Kenya Kwanza camp.
Mr Odinga, who was accompanied by his running mate Martha Karua, addressed his final rally in the region at the Bukhungu Stadium in Kakamega town after wrapping up campaigns in Busia County ahead of the General Election set for Tuesday next week.
In 2017, Mr Odinga polled 1,186,379 votes in Western, ahead of President Kenyatta’s 242,388. He is now looking to firm up his lead, even against inroads by Deputy President William Ruto who has now won over Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi and Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula to his camp.
Mr Odinga said the polls on Tuesday, in which opinion polls have suggested he is the frontrunner against the four candidates in the race, will be about the economic liberation of the country and the fight against corruption. He said Dr Ruto and his team could not be trusted to run the country and take it to the next level.
Mr Odinga and Ms Karua pledged to deal firmly with corruption if he clinches the presidency and serve all Kenyans without discrimination, irrespective of whether they supported him or not.
Ms Karua said: “There are two sides to this election. One side stands for change and transformation of the country to tackle corruption while the other is known for making empty promises and its leaders have been tainted by corruption cases.”
They said the country is in great danger of being run down due to poor leadership and asked voters not to be swayed by empty promises from the Kenya Kwanza leaders.
“We have five days for Kenyans to go the polls and decide who their next president will be and that’s why I have decided to come ingo (home) to seek blessings from my people and elders before I head to the battlefield,” said Mr Odinga.
Elders bless Odinga
At the rally, Luhya elders led by the chairman Peter Ludava and Mr Julius Nyarotso conducted a brief ceremony to bless Mr Odinga and Ms Karua before releasing them to seek blessing from other regions in the final stretch of their campaigns.
Mr Odinga said Dr Ruto’s running mate Rigathi Gachagua was unfit to hold public office because of the corruption-related cases he is facing in court.
He warned Kenyans not to gamble by voting in leaders who make promises they cannot fulfil and are not ready to explain their source of wealth.
“Our dream is to unite all Kenyans and uplift their livelihoods by improving the economy. I know the path we want to take to deliver on our promises and transform the country,” said Mr Odinga.
At an earlier rally at Lunyofu stadium in Budalangi, Mr Odinga said voters should reject the Kenya Kwanza team because its leaders have integrity issues.
“As a country we have been unable to fight ignorance, poverty and disease because of corruption. If Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition clinches the presidency, we promise Kenyans that we will seal all the loopholes being used to fleece public resources,” said Mr Odinga.
Committed to fight corruption
Ms Karua said: “We are committed to fight corruption as set out in the Constitution. We will be up to the task when we get into office if Kenyans give us the mandate to lead the country. We are confident, we will raise enough resources to run the country if the fight against corruption succeeds.”
She said Dr Ruto and his allies should stop directing their attacks at President Uhuru Kenyatta who is not on the ballot while claiming Mr Odinga and herself are projects.
“Indeed, we are projects of the Kenyan people. Our competitors are confused and angry. What they need to know is that the August 9 contest is between us (Raila and Martha) and the Kenya Kwanza. They should stop looking for scapegoats because they know Kenyans don’t trust them,” said Ms Karua.
The Azimio team will be in Luanda and Majengo in Vihiga County today (Thursday) before heading to Kisumu town for a major rally.
Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o, who attended the Bukhungu rally, said the Mulembe nation had sent a clear message about whom they will support in the polls. Cotu Secretary-General Francis Atwoli said should voters in Western make the mistake of backing Dr Ruto, they will regret the decision since the Kenya Kwanza team cannot be trusted to deliver on its promises.