Speaking at his political stronghold in Western Kenya over the weekend, the 77-year old told his supporters to continue to join him in pushing for democratic reform. He said despite having lost a fifth time, he will not give up the fight.
“I’m not tired, do you see me giving up? Do you want me to continue?” he told his supporters.
Raila has been silent following William Ruto’s win, which was upheld by the Supreme Court. However, his supporters and leaders from his Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya coalition continuously kept nudging him to provide ‘political direction’.
Homa Bay County Senator Otieno Kajwang’ describes Raila as the hope of ordinary Kenyans who are facing economic hardship. “You [Raila] are our strength. We are waiting for direction from you,” he says.
‘When the time is right’
The former PM, who unsuccessfully contested for the presidency in 1997, 2007, 2013, 2017 and 2022, has indicated that he will provide political direction to his supporters in the coming days.
He [Raila] does not give up easily. He is preparing his supporters
“When the time is right, I will tell you what to follow,” he said.
George Odhiambo, a Raila supporter based in Kisumu, believes that his leader’s sentiments are meant to send a message to his opponents that he is likely to contest again in 2027.
“He [Raila] does not give up easily. He is preparing his supporters,” Odhiambo says.
Time to admit defeat?
On the other hand, there have been calls for Raila to retire. During a past media briefing, President Ruto said he was ready to offer Raila a job as an envoy in the region, on the condition that he retires from active politics.
When Raila Odinga decides to retire, he can work with us as an elder statesman – President Ruto pic.twitter.com/DX3x8BT8Kd
— Kenyans.co.ke (@Kenyans) September 27, 2022
Paul Musyoka, who voted for Raila, says it’s time the long-time opposition leader considers passing over the baton to a younger politician, ahead of the 2027 election. “I love [Raila] Odinga, but he should now take a [break],” he says.
Some of Raila’s supporters have pointed to his ally and three time running mate, Kalonzo Musyoka, to take on the mantle.
Possible plans for Raila
Kevin Ochol, a political analyst in Nairobi, tells The Africa Report that Raila’s statement is a sign that he is taking the lead to overview Ruto’s administration, while also encouraging his supporters that all is not lost.
“[Raila] Odinga is assuring supporters that he is still available politically,” he says.
On the political bombshell that Raila has alluded to, Ochol says the opposition leader might provide instructions to his supporters to boycott certain programmes from Ruto’s administration, mainly tax reforms.
He says it may also indicate plans to call for constitutional change, with the aim of reforming the electoral commission and the judiciary, the two institutions Raila believes ‘snatched’ the presidency from him.
Furthermore, Raila is also accusing the government of coercing and forcing political leaders from his coalition to jump ship. He calls this a threat to democracy.
Ruto’s allies are not taking Raila’s words lightly. They would rather see him stay away from the new government to give it time to deliver on its promises to the people.
Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua has told Raila that the new government does not need any advice from him on how to run the government.
“We have no business with you [Raila] in our government. We are neither interested nor waiting for you in our government,” Gachagua said while addressing his supporters.