NAIROBI, Kenya July 8 – Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party leader Raila Odinga says he does not want President Uhuru Kenyatta’s endorsement when he ultimately decides to vie in the 2022 presidential election.
The former Prime Minister said he will only seek the Head of State’s vote when he commits and announces his candidature in the high-stake polls.
“I have not said that I will vie and Uhuru has not endorsed me. I do not want to be endorsed by Uhuru or anybody else. We have competed before with Uhuru and I do not understand how he will endorse me. When I vie, I will only seek his vote,” he said during an interview on Radio Citizen.
Whereas speculation has been rife that Odinga is President Kenyatta’s suitable candidate as his possible successor, the African Union envoy for Infrastructure has downplayed the perception noting that he has what it takes to convince the electorate to endorse him when the right time comes.
Odinga, who is yet to publicly and formally declare his candidature, has made it clear that he will only do so or otherwise when the process of amending the Constitution through the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) exercise is concluded.
“I have said time and again that I will not speak on my candidature until we are done with BBI. I have been a candidate before and I have won elections before and so nothing will stop me from vying again when I decide because that is my constitutional right but it is not yet time,” he said.
During this year’s Madaraka Day celebrations that were held in Kisumu County, President Kenyatta who is not in good terms with his deputy William Ruto indirectly hinted at supporting Odinga’s candidature, lauding him for his effort, commitment and passion to see Kenya united.
President Kenyatta and Odinga united on March 9, 2018 when they shook hands in what is now famously referred to as the handshake and committed to work together.
The union subsequently gave birth to the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), a constitutional process that seeks to amend the Constitution and foster more inclusivity and unity in the country.
While the BBI process was halted by the High Court and the Court of Appeal is set to issue its verdict on the appeal case on August 20, 2021, Odinga underscored that he is more devoted on seeing Kenya united and that his ambitions can wait.
“Kenya is bigger than anyone and seeing the country united is more satisfying than me vying,” he said.
When Odinga decides to vie, it will be hist fifth attempt at the presidency.
Ruto who has since intensified his quest to succeed President Kenyatta is certain that Odinga will be in the ballot and has made it clear that the former Prime Minister is his only serious competitor.
The duo have in recent days been on a war path over the handling of corruption in the country with Odinga last week revealing during a tour in Mombasa that he will not shy away from jailing all corrupt leaders when he forms the next government sentiments which sparked fury from Ruto.
While Odinga refers to Ruto as the ‘high priest of corruption’ whose source of wealth cannot be explained, Ruto asserts that Odinga is ‘Lord of poverty’ who thrives in discouraging progress.
President Kenyatta who is focused on cementing his legacy before his term in office ends has remained non-committal in engaging in the 2022 politics and sideshows.
The 2022 presidential race has attracted interest from other candidates including Musalia Mudavadi (ANC), Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper), former UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi and Jimmy Wanjigi.