Raila Odinga begins setting up campaign team

ODM leader Raila Odinga has begun assembling his presidential campaign team seven months to the General Election.

Mr Odinga has named Laikipia Governor Ndiritu Muriithi the chair of the board of his 2022 campaign and former Kenya Revenue Authority commissioner Elizabeth Meyo as secretary and chief executive.

Other members of the Board, which will be instrumental in crafting Mr Odinga’s 10-point manifesto, could be announced today.

“Regarding today’s (Wednesday) appointments, I will be issuing an official statement by the end of business tomorrow (today),” said Ms Meyo, who is currently consulting with the International Monetary Fund.

By picking Mr Muriithi, who chair’s the Council of Governor’s finance and economic affairs committee and Ms Meyo, Mr Odinga has signalled that he will be making the country’s economic revival the centre piece of his campaign.

Governor Muriithi’s selection is also seen as a show of the confidence Mr Odinga has in the ongoing pre-election coalition talks with President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party. Although Mr Muriithi was elected as an independent candidate, he has allied himself with President Kenyatta

With the presidential campaign secretariat formed, and Parliament rushing to amend the law to facilitate registration of the Azimio La Umoja coalition, on whose ticket Mr Odinga will contest the presidency, focus is likely to shift to concluding the pre-election coalition talks.

Potential running mates

Talks between ODM and Jubilee slowed down after the campaign to amend the constitution through the Building Bridges Initiative to create extra executive positions was scuttled, but the hurried consideration by the House of the Political Parties (Amendment) Bill has given them fresh impetus.

Each party is represented by five negotiators in the talks while the respective executive directors are joint secretaries.

Jubilee is represented by Vice-Chairman David Murathe, Secretary-General Raphael Tuju, National Assembly Majority Whip Emmanuel Wangwe, Igembe North MP Maoka Maore and Samburu West MP Naisula Lesuuda.

On the ODM side are Chairman John Mbadi, Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna, National Assembly Minority Whip Junet Mohamed, nominated Senator Agnes Zani and Kisii Woman Rep Janet Ong’era.

Mr Junet has since reserved the Azimio La Umoja name at the Registrar of Political Parties.

Yesterday, Mr Mbadi told the Nation the coalition talks are going on well.

“The talks are very productive and what we will be engaging on soon is who will deputise Raila,” said Mr Mbadi.

Azimio la Umoja coalition

As preparations for the new outfit continue, Mr Odinga has gradually shed off ODM’s orange colours and adopted royal blue – the proposed Azimio la Umoja coalition colour. The ODM leader’s campaign team has since produced caps and t-shirts in the same colour and  emblazoned with an orange letter ‘R,’ for Raila.

Mr Odinga avoided wearing his party’s colours in some of his tours around the country, particularly in the vote-rich Mt Kenya region.

Mr Mbadi revealed that although ODM will continue to exist even with the launch of the Azimio la Umoja coalition, the plans for a larger political vehicle had compelled them to change their brand.

“We are not shedding off ODM colours but simply introducing new colours for the upcoming outfit. We cannot just convert ODM into a movement because it’s a party with supporters across the country,” he explained.

“When you are coming up with a new outfit like Azimio, you are opening doors for other political parties including Jubilee, and this calls for introduction of new colours and even slogans.”

ODM and Jubilee are looking for such a vehicle, which can directly sponsor candidates besides the affiliate parties so that in areas where the two outfits are facing resistance, voters have another option.

To prepare for party nominations due in May, Mr Odinga’s ODM has also constituted a national elections board, which is chaired by Catherine Mumma. Abdulahi Diriye, Richard Tairo, Syntei Nchoe and Emily Awita are members.

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