Strategists of Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga are crafting a plan to have the former Prime Minister succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2022, possibly for a single-term rule.
This, according to those in the know, is to be achieved through the party’s cooperation with the ruling Jubilee Party and Kanu.
Whereas Kanu, led by Baringo Senator Gideon Moi, has already entered into a formal post-election coalition with Jubilee, ODM is working with the ruling party based on the March 9, 2018 “Handshake” deal between Mr Odinga and the President.
ODM insiders say even though their wish is to have Mr Odinga vie for president and serve for the mandatory two terms, they are not ruling out pushing for a single term if that will be acceptable by their partners.
“In this arrangement between ODM, Jubilee and Kanu, you see that Kanu ruled for a record 40 years while Jubilee shall have ruled for 10 years in 2022. Therefore, ODM, being a partner in this and the single largest party after Jubilee, stands a better chance to take over the mantle now that we have not been in power, unlike our friends,” said an ODM official on Friday.
Mr Odinga’s spokesperson Dennis Onyango was, however, non-committal on whether Mr Odinga was aware of the plan.
“Put that question to the leaders who spoke to you about the plan,” Mr Onyango told the Saturday Nation.
Mr Odinga’s elder brother Dr Oburu Oginga, however, said that whereas their main agenda remains the implementation of the Building Bridges Initiative report, they have also set their sights on the presidency.
“We have not bowed out of the 2022 race. We don’t see any person who can pose a challenge to Raila and that is why we are saying, let him be president for even one term,” Dr Oginga said.
He reminded those calling for Mr Odinga’s retirement due to his age that founding president Jomo Kenyatta ascended to power around the same age.
“Kenyatta became president at over 70 years and served for 15 years,” said the East African Legislative Assembly member.
He said that at the moment, 2022 is not their agenda but BBI, noting that succession politics will come later.
Uriri MP Mark Nyamita said Mr Odinga has no option other than to become President in 2022 even if it means going for only one term.
“That’s what we are looking forward to and nothing short of that, even if it means serving for a single term,” he said.
ODM secretary-general Edwin Sifuna said Mr Odinga, “as the holder of the vision for a new Kenya, the country will do well to give him an opportunity to implement this vision.”
“To ask him to endorse someone else again is to ask too much because he did this in 2002. He demonstrated selflessness by this endorsement,” said Mr Sifuna.
The party’s director of political affairs Opiyo Wandayi said that as a party, they cannot shelve their interest in the 2022 succession.
“As a political party, our existence is for the purpose of capturing state power, which can only be captured democratically in an election,” said Mr Wandayi.
He was however, non-committal on Mr Odinga’s candidature, noting that “matters of strategy cannot be discussed at the moment.”
“We cannot open up a debate on this at the moment but are focused on bringing forth necessary legal and administrative reforms under the BBI framework,” Mr Wandayi said.
Other ODM MPs, Elisha Odhiambo (Gem), Chris Omulele (Luanda) and Sam Atandi (Alego Usonga) said Mr Odinga has the qualifications to succeed President Kenyatta.
“ODM should capture power and our best bet in the next election is Raila Amollo Odinga,” said Mr Odhiambo.
Mr Omulele said: “Raila Amollo Odinga has every right and every qualification to run for any office in Kenya, including the presidency and I support him.”
Likoni MP Mishi Mboko, however, pointed out that succession politics will be debated at an appropriate time.
“Right now we are waiting for BBI and managing Covid-19,” she said yesterday.
Mr Wandayi disclosed that the shape and form of the movement that will be instrumental to capture power in 2022 will emerge in due course.