Raila allies troop towards Ruto’s camp

Wednesday, December 7th, 2022 01:06 | By
Raila endorses Jubilee candidate ahead of Utawala by-election
Azimio la Umoja - One Kenya coalition leader Raila Odinga addressing a rally in Utawala, Nairobi, on Sunday, December 4, 2022. PHOTO/ODM Party/Facebook

ODM leader Raila Odinga is gradually cutting a lonely image as his close allies drift away following his loss in the August 9 election.

Over the last couple of weeks, allies of the veteran opposition leader have been warming up to President William Ruto.

People Daily has learnt that the exodus is likely to continue today when Raila embarks on a series of rallies to protest the removal of four commissioners of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

Yesterday, the Kenya Union Party associated with former West Pokot Governor John Lonyangapuo distanced itself from the planned rallies. He accused Raila of failing to consult Azimio affiliates.

“We have come out to dissociate ourselves with the approach that is being introduced now where in our Azimio coalition there was no consultation,” he said.

Besides Lonyangapuo, some of Raila’s long-time allies from Western and Coast regions have made it clear that they are keen on working with Ruto.

Leading the pack of those who have since abandoned Raila is Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) secretary general Francis Atwoli.

In the run up to the August 9 election, Atwoli was vehemently opposed to Ruto’s candidature. But last week, Atwoli in the company of other leaders from Western Kenya, met Ruto at State House and declared that he was ready to work with him.

Speaking in Khwisero, Kakamega at the weekend, he said he had decided to work closely with Ruto “for the sake of workers”.

“As leaders sitting on various international labour bodies, I am obliged to brief the President on whatever is discussed at the forums and their outcome. This can only effectively happen when I am working closely with the President,” said Atwoli.

Cherera four

The outspoken trade unionist urged Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi to unite the region.

“If he (Ruto) outsmarted us even when we had the government led by former President Uhuru Kenyatta, what will stop him from winning with a landslide in the next polls?” said Atwoli.

Several MPs allied to the Azimio coalition recently refrained from opposing the report by the National Assembly Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs (JLAC) recommending the suspension of the four IEBC commissioners including Juliana Cherera, Justus Nyang’aya, Irene Masit and Francis Wanderi.  When the report was put to the vote, only 19 out of the 32 Azimio MPs in the House opposed, allowing the easy passage of the report.

Cherera and Nyang’aya have since resigned from the commission.

Last week, former Laikipia North MP Mathew Lempurkel also announced that he had quit ODM.

Speaking in Narok, Lempurkel said he left the party after missing out on the list of nominees to the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA). He claimed that during the campaigns, Raila had promised to nominate him.

“I was disappointed by Raila’s move to nominate his daughter Winnie instead of me. I have stood with him for a long time. He had assured me during the campaign period that one of the EALA slots will be given to me,” Lempurkel said.

Former Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, Raila’s right hand man in Western Kenya, recently announced that he had withdrawn his support for the opposition leader.

Opposition role

Speaking at a funeral two weeks ago, Oparanya accused Raila of sidelining the Luhya community in nominations  to the regional assembly.  “I am done with Raila and even if he bad mouthes me, God forbid, he knows, he will not be forgiven,” he said.

Kakamega Deputy Governor Ayub Savula has said Raila should play his role as opposition leader and avoid engaging in activities that can disrupt the lives of Kenyans.

“What Raila Odinga should be doing now is questioning the high cost of food and fuel. But telling us to go back to the streets to reclaim the lost victory doesn’t sit well with us,” he said.

Kakamega Governor Fernandes Barasa, who has been an ally of Raila, has also met Ruto ahead of his tour of the county.

“Accompanied by Senator @KBonimtetezi and Malava Member of Parliament Hon Malulu Injendi, we met President @WilliamsRuto and Deputy President @rigathi at State House, Nairobi ahead of the President’s working visit to Kakamega County this week,” Baraza tweeted after the meeting.

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