Why Raila Odinga is my candidate for president in 2013

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NGUNJIRI WAMBUGU

I have spent the last couple of weeks speaking on what I do not like about a certain politician and some of the feedback I have received is that for the discussion to be complete I must move beyond what is wrong, and also share what is right.

In this regard over the next two weeks I will share five reasons why I believe the Rt. Hon Raila Amolo Odinga is the best candidate to take over from H.E. Mwai Kibaki in March 2013, as the fourth President of the Republic of Kenya.

Top of the list for me is the PM’s call for a united Kenya. Unlike the other frontrunners, the PM seems to be the only candidate not interested in ‘cutting’ Kenya into sections that then come together under him.

He seems to be the only one who has learnt that with the 2008 post-election violence such a fresh memory, it is dangerous to run an ethnically divisive campaign.

The issue of unity has become a primary pillar in his campaign message and everywhere he goes he strives to paint the picture of a Kenya that belongs to all Kenyans; a Kenya where all our races, tribes, religions, ages and/or genders have space to be themselves while working together harmoniously to grow the nation at all levels.

The PM is clearly the only person who day-in day-out is selling a message that under his government no Kenyan will be left behind at whatever level.

He has categorically stated that as far as he is concerned if a single Kenya is left behind, then all of Kenya lags behind. He is therefore selling his candidacy as that of someone who as President intends to unite Kenyans across their various diversities.

This contrasts sharply with what Prof Peter Kagwanja defines as ‘grievance politics’; manipulation of fault lines, tensions and cultural differences to win votes; a strategy that the key competitors against the PM have perfected as their ‘modus operandi’, and a key element that led to the 2008 post-election violence.

The second thing I like about Raila Odinga’s presidential bid is his commitment to full implementation of the constitution.

Everywhere he goes he states clearly that ODM is the ‘party of the constitution’, explained by the fact that it came about as a defiance to a bad Constitution in 2005, and was at the frontline in campaigning for Kenya’s new Constitution in 2010.

He is also the only candidate of the top five who has publicly stated that his government will fully implement, protect and defend the spirit AND letter of the Constitution.

He is also the only candidate who has publicly assured Kenyans that he will ensure that County Governments are fully established, empowered and resourced.

He is also the only candidate who has shown the capacity to do the uncomfortable to pass the Constitution, with a key highlight when he went against the decision by President Kibaki to nominate Justice Alnashir Visram for Chief Justice, because it was done outside the constitutional requirements.

The Prime Minister has therefore confirmed to me that when he says he will implement the Constitution it is not just talk; he is willing ‘to shake trees’ to ensure Kenyans get exactly what they voted for in 2010. This pleases me tremendously.

(Next week I continue with the remaining three reasons why my vote for president will go to ‘Jakom’ next year).

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