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Why Raila could miss ODM presidential ticket

Tuesday, April 6th, 2021 11:00 |
ODM leader Raila Odinga, right, with his deputy and Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya at a past event. Only Oparanya and Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho have submitted their papers to be considered to fly the Orange party flag in the 2022 polls. Photo/PD/FILE

The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) was yesterday trapped in a Catch-22 situation following its party leader Raila Odinga’s failure to apply for its 2022 presidential candidature.

The party’s hierarchy remained tight-lipped on the matter, only suggesting that Raila’s fate now lies in the hands of one of its highest decision making organ, the Central Committee.

The party’s Secretary General Edwin Sifuna told People Daily the decision to advertise for the position was arrived at by the Central Committee (CC), which directed the National Elections Board (NEB) and it was only they that could rule on the way forward.

“It is the CC that instructed NEB. I am only a Secretary to CC. For now, CC has not made any decision. If and when they make, we shall make it public,” said Sifuna.

But highly placed sources within the party told People Daily in confidence that they could be forced to re-advertise the vacancies for its presidential flagbearer to enable Raila to apply for the position.

This is after the Opposition chief failed to submit his application for the position by March 31, which was the deadline set by the party’s elections body headed by Ms Catherine Mumma.

By close of the applications window, only Mombasa governor Hassan Joho and his Kakamega counterpart Wycliffe Oparanya had submitted their papers to be considered to fly the Orange party flag in the 2022 polls. 

This in effect, means Raila has been locked out of the race to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta under the Orange party ticket, an eventuality likely to cause a serious uproar from the opposition chief’s support base.

Yesterday, Homa Bay Town MP Peter Kaluma gave a glimpse of the uproar that is likely to erupt should Raila be locked out of the 2022 race.

In a tweet, the MP charged; “Raila Amolo Odinga will be on the ballot in 2022 to be our 5th President ‘apende, asipende!.” 

On Friday, Sifuna, in a statement, indicated Raila had not applied for the position by the close of the March 31 deadline set by NEB.

“At the close of the application period, the party received only two applications from Joho and Oparanya. These will be processed in the usual manner by the NEB,” said Sifuna.

Earlier, Ms Mumma had released a statement informing party members that three aspirants had applied, among them Raila, Joho and Oparanya.

“The NEB shall scrutinise the three applications, vet the candidates as required by the ODM elections and Nominations Rules and subsequently, thereto announce the next processes and time taken in accordance with the ODM constitution,” said Mumma, a statement Sifuna later said was an April Fools Day prank which had been swallowed by the party’s rivals.

Fresh application

Efforts to get a comment from  Mumma yesterday proved futile as our calls and texts were not answered.

However, a high ranking official of the party, who sought anonymity, told People Daily the party could find itself in a Catch 22 situation should they re-advertise the position. 

He said such a move is likely to cause an uproar from followers of Joho and Oparanya as well as give the opponents fodder to chew.

“NEB could re-advertise and say that those who submitted did not qualify or did not meet the criteria. But that could trigger a storm. 

“Unless they advertise for fresh application but tell Joho and Oparanya not to apply and that their application is still valid. Either way the party is in Catch 22 situation,” said the source. 

The source explained that the nomination rules are not cast in stone and that the CC instructed NEB to conduct the exercise based on a taskforce report that had recommended that the party undertakes such processes much earlier. 

In the report, it was revealed that the party had weak nomination rules and did not meet the requirements of the IEBC.

The report also accused the Elections Board of not having clear guidelines for aspirants and no credible party membership list.

“ODM nomination rules are not cast in stone. They are guidelines to guide the process,” added the source.

Raila has over the years maintained that he is not interested in the 2022 presidential vote, and will only talk about it after the passage of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI). 

Although he has not officially announced he will vie for the top seat, Raila is regarded as a top contender due to the huge grassroots support he enjoys across the country.

In February, the former premier stated that when he shook hands with President Uhuru Kenyatta on March 9, 2018, they agreed to only pursue the course of uniting Kenyans. 

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