Raila Odinga has explained why his Orange Democratic Movement is not comfortable with Deputy President William Ruto.
While the Orange party has been warming up to President Uhuru Kenyatta since the March 9 handshake and unity deal, its leaders have been shunning and attacking the DP.
And now Mr Odinga says only one thing has been making him and his troops not like Mr Ruto, the self-declared ‘hustler’, very much: early campaigns for 2022.
ODM says the “premature” vote chase, sometimes disguised as development tours and project launches, is a mockery of the efforts being made by Mr Odinga and Mr Kenyatta to address the 2017 election debacle.
The early vote hunt, Mr Odinga said, is contrary to the agreement he entered into with Mr Kenyatta.
“Campaigns for 2022 is not part of what we agreed on with President Kenyatta. We agreed to fix 2017 first before talking about 2022 politics,” Mr Odinga said in an interview with Citizen TV.
“We don’t want to put the country in a campaign mood before dealing with issues that led to the crisis in 2017. That is why ODM is trying to restrain members from engaging in 2022 campaigns,” he added.
Mr Odinga dared MPs Aisha Jumwa (Malindi) and Suleiman Dori (Msambweni), who have openly declared their support for Mr Ruto’s 2022 presidential bid, to quit ODM and seek fresh mandate from the electorates.
ODM gave Ms Jumwa and Mr Dori seven days, an ultimatum that expired on Tuesday, to show cause why they should not be expelled for their conduct.
“I have told my people to welcome DP Ruto when he visits their constituencies for development because he is in government, but should restrain from engaging in campaigns for 2022,” said Mr Odinga.
“They are campaigning for another candidate. Has Nasa coalition or its affiliate parties— ODM, Ford- Kenya, Wiper or ANC— said they are not going to produce a candidate in 2022?” he posed.
Mr Odinga, who seemed to be careful with his words, refused to divulge information if he still harbours presidential ambitions for 2022.
He was also cagey on the behind-the-scenes developments that led to the handshake and working relationship with Mr Kenyatta, only saying that they were approached by some people.
He also said that he did not demand the exclusion of Mr Ruto from their talks with the president.
“The talk was between people who took oath for presidency, but if President Uhuru consulted Mr Ruto, I cannot confirm,” he said.
The former prime minister denied claims he is in government while insisting that is still the opposition and Nasa leader.
The handshake, he said, was purely for purposes of bringing the country together by addressing pertinent issues facing Kenyans.
“I am not in government, if I was in government I would have a specific title. I’m outside government as a member of the ODM and Nasa,” he said.
Mr Odinga said the sole aim of the unity deal was to address issues touching on devolution, inclusivity, poverty, divisive elections, unemployment and historical injustices.
He said the issues were being addressed by the 14-member Building Bridges team as guided by the nine-point agenda he drafted with the president.
“The team will bring the report and if some the issues they want tackled will require referendum, then I and President Kenyatta will have no option,” he said.