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Raila Odinga receives campaign branded vans to support his 2022 presidential bid/FILE/Raila Odinga

COUNTDOWN TO 2022

‘Not me!’ Raila denies engaging in premature campaigns

NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 23 – Orange Democratic Leader Raila Odinga has urged Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to shun skirting around the issue of early campaigning by naming the political contenders involved.

“Go and tell IEBC Chairperson Wafula Chebukati to name the people and not just make wild allegations and ensure they face the consequences if they are any,” Raila on Tuesday.

Asked whether his Azimio la Umoja political tours are not in fact premature campaigns for the 2022 presidential race since he has been pledging various intervention if elected President, Odinga vehemently denied.

“I don’t know where that has come from. Azimio la Umoja tours are consultations with the people of Kenya, and I don’t know how that can be interpreted to be campaigns,” Odinga pointed out.

Despite having fully branded campaign vehicles and receiving delegations in support of his 2022 ambitions, Odinga insisted, “we don’t even have a candidate”, referring to his party ODM.

Odinga accused other political aspirants involved in early campaigning of hypocritical on the issue when called out in the public.

“You people know it and I don’t know why Media cannot call a spade a spade not a big spoon. This hypocrisy is what is leading the country astray — people do not want to say the truth,” he said.

Odinga statement came a day after Deputy President William Ruto denied claims that he was engaged in early campaigns.

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While answering a question from a journalist after chairing an Intergovernmental Budget and Economic Council (IBEC) meeting at his Karen residence on Monday, Ruto said his countrywide meetings are not campaigns but a meet the people tours to seek and understand their views on the execution of government projects.

“I haven’t started the campaigns because the campaign period is not yet announced by IEBC. What you have seen me do is to do what my mandate is: speaking to people, understanding their issues, assessing the extent of our government programs on how far they are and receiving feedback from the public,” Ruto said.

Ruto’s remarks were in reference to a statement issued by IEBC chairperson Wafula Chebukati on November 19. Chebukati had raised concerns about ongoing early campaigns in the country and warned politicians to await the declaration of the campaign window.

In a statement, Chebukati said that some politicians and aspirants had intensified their campaigns outside the legally prescribed period.

“The commission is empowered by the law to regulate campaigns upon commencement of the election period as outlined in the Elections Operations Plan (EOP),” Chebukati said.

The poll body said it was within its powers to regulate campaigns through the publication of the Notice of the General Election to mark the commencement of the election period.

Ruto and Odinga are seen are frontrunners in the 2022 race with the latter enjoying support from from senior government officials following a 2018 pact with President Uhuru Kenyatta. Odinga is expected to formally declare his presidential bid on December 9.

Ruto, on the other hand, is campaigning under his United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party after falling out of favour in the ruling Jubilee Party that is keen to enter into a pre-election alliance with Odinga’s ODM.

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