Preparations reach top gear for Azimio jamboree at Kasarani

Raila Odinga

ODM leader Raila Odinga with other leaders during Azimio la Umoja Central Chapter meeting in Nyeri on November 27, 2021.

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Suna East MP Junet Mohamed says there will be a major announcement on which way the country will go.
  • Invitations to the event have been sent out and it is expected that all the leaders of One Kenya Alliance will attend. 

ODM leader Raila Odinga will launch his fifth presidential bid on Friday with an expected announcement of Azimio la Umoja (Quest for Unity) as a coalition whose flag he will fly in the 2022 election.

Preparations are underway for Mr Odinga’s big day at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, which will welcome some 60,000 people for the National Azimio la Umoja Convention.

“The Azimio la Umoja was a consultative forum all over the country where people were discussing issues about their respective regions. Baba was also consulting with the people on whether or not he should run in 2022. All the 14 regions have spoken. He (Mr Odinga) is now going to give a response to those resolutions at the National Azimio la Umoja Convention,” Suna East MP Junet Mohamed told Sunday Nation.

According to Mr Mohamed, the occasion will also be used to announce Azimio la Umoja as a coalition for political parties that will join up with ODM.

“There will be a major announcement on which way the country will go. We are going to launch a new movement that day—the Azimio la Umoja Coalition. That will be big,” he said.

It was Mr Mohamed who in late October went to the Office of the Registrar of Political Parties (ORPP) to reserve the name Azimio la Umoja as a possible coalition name.

Invitations to the event have been sent out and it is expected that all the leaders of One Kenya Alliance (OKA), namely Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi, Gideon Moi, Moses Wetang’ula and Cyrus Jirongo will attend. 

Invited guests

Organisers of the event also disclosed that each of the parties that have been invited has also been given quotas of delegates they can bring. ANC deputy leader Ayub Savula said he received a phone call inviting him to the meeting and promised to attend.

“I have received a call inviting me for the meeting,” he said without giving details of who exactly made the call. “I am sure that my party leader has been invited and as to whether he will attend is up to him to decide.”

Mr Savula said he will attend the meeting to foster “friendship” for his political future.

The Party of National Unity (PNU) currently associated with Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture Peter Munya is also expected to be represented at the event as are other parties whose leaders have declared support for Mr Odinga such as Narc led by Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu. 

It had been expected that President Uhuru Kenyatta could make an appearance at Kasarani on Friday after the event was moved from Thursday, the day he is expected to attend Tanzania’s independence celebrations. However, organisers told Sunday Nation that it looks unlikely he will be present at the event.

“We have invited everyone, but I am not sure whether he (President Kenyatta) will attend but I can tell you our invitations went far and wide and to people of every colour, religion and party. Whether some people will come or not, that we will see on the actual day,” said Mr Mohamed.

Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, who is among the event organisers, said yesterday that contrary to the popular belief, the event will not be an ODM affair but a climax of a series of events that Mr Odinga has been holding across the country under the aegis of Azimio la Umoja.

“It is not an ODM affair but a meeting that brings together delegates from all the regions that Mr Odinga visited as he promoted his Azimio la Umoja,” he said.

Formed last August after the Court of Appeal nullified the process to amend the Constitution through the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), Azimio la Umoja is Mr Odinga’s plan aimed at uniting the country ahead of the next general election.

Building alliances

Mr Odinga said at the launch in Nakuru that the plan’s objective was to dissect problems facing the country, among them political exclusion, divisive electoral processes, insecurity, corruption and economic hurdles, all of which informed the BBI process.

But it has also been the Trojan horse the former PM has used to reach out to various parts of the country, building alliances and gauging the mood for what would be his fifth stab at the Presidency.
All wards represented

Mr Odinga traversed Nakuru, Narok, Kakamega, Meru, Turkana, Garissa and Nyeri selling the plan he hopes will propel his bid.

According to organisers, there will be delegates from the country’s 1,450 wards, with Nairobi providing the bulk because of its proximity. Each ward will thus send five delegates, bringing the total to 7,250, with Nairobi bringing in more to fill the 60,000 capacity stadium.  

“Nairobi has been allotted space for more delegates because of proximity,” Mr Oparanya said, promising “the mother of all rallies”. He too said the President will not attend.

The plans for the day include Zoom call-ins from Mr Odinga’s friends from around the world. They will also provide a link for people in the diaspora, while a shortcode has been set up to enable delegates to book seats at Kasarani ahead of the event. 

The first site visit to the stadium will be on Monday. A team will inspect preparations. A second team led by Nairobi Governor Anne Kananu and the ODM Parliamentary Group will visit on Wednesday. 

Additional reporting by Justus Wanga, Ruth Mbula, Victor Raballa, George Odiwuor, Shaban Makokha and Ian Byrone

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