Raila weighs his options for 2022

Raila-Moi ticket ‘on the cards’ as ODM leader weighs 2022 options

ODM leader Raila Odinga could explore five options ahead of the 2022 General Election as political realignments unfold.

As Wiper, Amani National Congress and Ford-Kenya exit the National Super Alliance, Mr Odinga could seal a pre-election coalition deal with President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee and persuade Kanu, which already has a deal with the ruling party, to stick.

By snatching Kanu from One Kenya Alliance (OKA), it would be a setback to his erstwhile Nasa allies who would want Senator Gideon Moi in their formation for regional representation as well as his financial muscle.

The new coalition with Jubilee would also give Mr Odinga the momentum to court new allies like Narc leader Charity Ngilu and Maendeleo Chap Chap’s Alfred Mutua, who instructively accompanied the former prime minister in his tour of Muranga yesterday.

Court new partners

ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna told the Nation Tuesday that the dissolution of Nasa gives the party an opportunity to court new partners, including the Nasa partners.

“We are not worried, because we know our paths will cross again. As Kalonzo said, it is not a divorce but a renegotiation,” Mr Sifuna said, referring to Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka’s declaration that the party was pulling out of Nasa but was still open for talks with ODM.

“With regard to the exit of Nasa by some of its members, that has nothing to do with Kanu as it is just as a result of their internal disagreements. But we hope for a major formation that will bring on board all the leading political players in the country,” said Kanu secretary-general Nick Salat.

Survival tactics

Political analyst Javas Bigambo argued that Kenya never quite goes to the elections with a political coalition as constituted in a previous election, citing the transformation of 2013’s Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (Cord) into Nasa in 2017.

“This exodus is a survival tactic for individual political parties and their leaders. Raila has always led the formation of new coalitions. Raila therefore has to ensure that Nasa dies and then he engineers a coalition that brings all those Nasa members and other new members into a new coalition,” Mr Bigambo said.

Political genius

Another political analyst, Herman Manyora, argued that Mr Odinga remains a political genius when it comes to assembling political outfits and will weather the current political storm.

“I am sure the Nasa team will go back to Raila. But if they don’t, Raila will assemble a team with new regional kingpins,” he said.

“In western, for instance, there are governors Wycliffe Oparanya, Wycliffe Wangamati and former minister Mukhisa Kituyi while Ukambani governors Ngilu, Mutua and Kivutha Kibwana will do fine for him.”

Barring a successful bid by Wiper, Mr Musalia Mudavadi’s ANC, and Mr Moses Wetangula’s Ford-Kenya to dissolve Nasa, ODM could rebuild the coalition with the remaining partners and hope to attract more affiliate parties.

No smooth sailing

That, however, may not be smooth sailing, considering the other affiliate party, is Chama Cha Mashinani (CCM), whose party leader has decamped to Deputy President William Ruto’s camp.

But Ford-Kenya, the only one of the three disgruntled parties yet to convene a meeting to ratify the withdrawal from Nasa owing to an internal power struggle, may have to stick around.

An anticipated falling-out in OKA over the naming of a presidential flag-bearer could as well benefit Mr Odinga.

Besides rejuvenating Nasa, political analyst Dismas Mokua suggested that the ODM leader can rope in second-term governors to replace Nasa principals “or run alone and risk egg on his face as this guarantees a successful loss”.

Mr Odinga also has the option of exploiting the benefits of Nasa’s dissolution in so far as it frees him from the deal not to run again. Yesterday, Mr Sifuna alluded to this, saying the death of Nasa is a relief to ODM.

Competitive primaries

“The Nasa deal was very punitive on ODM, just like the Treaty of Versailles, because the ‘guilt’ of producing the coalition presidential candidate meant a loss of territories, reduction in our parliamentary numbers and reparation payments to allies,” Mr Sifuna said, referring to the concession to share political parties’ funds with Nasa partners.

With allies like Kanu that have insisted OKA should embrace everyone unconditionally, Mr Odinga could join the new alliance and push for competitive primaries to pick a flag-bearer.

It’s a suggestion ODM director of elections and campaigns Junet Mohamed floated a while back, when he argued the party was ready to work with Nasa partners as long as they agreed to a competitive process of picking a flag-bearer.

On Tuesday, ODM Director of Political Affairs Opiyo Wandayi said the party’s strategy takes into account the dynamics of politics and the reality of realignments as the 2022 elections beckon.

“What’s happening is not totally unexpected. At the end of the day, don’t be surprised when the current Nasa affiliates regroup again, alongside other formations, in a new movement,” Mr Wandayi told the Nation.

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