Opposition leader Raila Odinga has once again hinted at running for the presidency in next year’s General-Election. Raila, who has kept his cards close to his chest since the last General Elections suggested that his was a tactical retreat to allow the Jubilee government to deliver its agenda for Kenyans during its second and final term in power.
The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader, who spoke during a meeting with Islamic scholars and women leaders at the Wild Waters Resort in Mombasa County, retraced his long political association with the Muslim community over the years and beseeched them to rally behind him in his future political endeavours.
Raila has pitched tent at the coast region over the last one week with a cabal of confidantes, led by Siaya senator James Orengo and Suna East MP Junet Mohamed in what insiders have revealed is aimed at taking stock of the orange party’s performance during last month’s Msambweni by-election where the party’s candidate Omar Boga was trounced by independent candidate Feisal Bader.
Addressing the Muslim leaders, Raila hinted that he had not surrendered his quest to lead the country, instead maintaining that he had taken “one step backwards” to achieve two steps forward.”
“There is one man who said, two steps forward one step backwards, It is called a tactical retreat, retreat in order to advance, hiyo ndio tulifanya, sija surrender (that is what we did, I have not surrendered, we are advancing and we are certain that we are going to succeed,” he told his audience.
“Na mimi ningependa kuuliza wanasiasa wenzangu,wakati unakuja sasa wa kuchagua ile mazuri na mabaya, sifting the grain from the chaff, so that we can go directly to the mill and that’s why I am asking all Muslim brothers and sisters because their religion is of high integrity to join the course,” he added.
Conspicuously absent from the meeting was Mombasa governor Ali Hassan Joho, his long standing pointman in the region, as well as other elected leaders who have previously accompanied Raila on his missions in the region.
Questioned about the glaring absence of Joho and his group, Shei kh Juma Ngao, the Kenya Muslim National Advisory Council (KEMNAC) chairman who convened the meeting maintained that they were not invited.
“They were not part of the meeting,” he said. The leaders used the occasion to endorse Raila’s 2022 candidature while also throwing their weight behind the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) and the planned referendum.
“We are in full support of you, we have declared our support for you in your ambition to become the president of this country, “said Sheikh Ngao.
Raila stated that the constitutional changes proposed in the BBI report must be done before the next elections so that they can be factored in the elections.
He said the fruits of the report can only be enjoyed if a referendum is done before 2022.
“If we go to the next elections with the current status of the constitution, we will have lost it. My intention with Uhuru Kenyatta is to ensure the country is left peaceful,” he said.
Raila thanked the Muslim community for supporting him all through his political journey despite the outcome of the various presidential elections.
He took a swipe at Deputy President William Ruto for distancing himself from the failures of the Jubilee government. Ruto, Raila claimed, had in his responsibilities as the deputy president and was now keen on distancing himself from the government’s shortcomings.
“I am not in government, this is a government of Uhuru and Ruto, so why are some people blaming me as if I’m in government, they should not run away from their responsibility,” he said.
Sheikh Ngao on his part reiterated the Muslim community’s support fro the BBI. “The problem with this country is bad leadership, but with the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), we have a lot of hopes that the leadership of this country will focus on development centered leadership,” Ngao said.