Let Kenyans decide their future, Raila tells vote opposers

The push for a referendum vote is unstoppable, Opposition leader Raila Odinga has declared.

He asked politicians opposed to the plebiscite to keep off and let Kenyans determine their destiny.

“You will not stop an idea whose time has come,” Mr Odinga said in Awendo town, Migori County, during campaigns for the Migori Senate candidate Ochillo Ayacko.

The ODM boss said many constitutions around the world are reviewed after at least eight years.

“Our constitution is very ripe for change. We must evaluate if devolution has served successfully and the emerging bottlenecks. Is the executive too bloated for our economy? And what about environmental issues?” Mr Odinga, the ODM party leader, asked.

“These are questions whose answers will be sought from Kenyans,” he said.


A section of leaders led by the Deputy President, Mr William Ruto, are opposed to the referendum call saying it risks putting the country on a perpetual election mood.

They have also claimed that the vote debate is being pushed by Mr Odinga as a ploy to carve a position for himself in the government by way of a prime minister’s post.

Mr Odinga, who addressed supporters in Rongo and Uriri in Migori, said there were issues in the country that could only be fixed through legal reforms.

“Those who are opposed to this debate are like the cries of a frog that can never stop cattle from drinking water,” he said.

Speaking in Rongo and accompanied by Siaya Governor Cornel Rasanga, Kisumu Deputy Governor Mathew Owili, National Assembly Minority Leader John Mbadi and several MPs, Mr Odinga said the Building Bridges Taskforce has started its work in earnest and will soon be moving around the country to collect views from Kenyans.

“My handshake with President Kenyatta is meant to address long-term issues that have impeded our socio-economic progress for decades. The Canaan journey is still on course with both Nasa and Jubilee members on board,” he asserted.


He explained that his party handpicked Mr Ayacko because he was the best among the aspirants who came forth.

“We conducted an opinion poll and he emerged the winner and his loyalty to the party has been tried and tested,” Mr Odinga told the crowd.

The nomination of Mr Ayacko by the party’s elections board prompted Migori Governor Okoth Obado, who is currently in remand prison, to revolt and support 27-year-old Federal Party of Kenya candidate Eddy Oketch.

The county chief said Mr Ayacko was picked through a boardroom deal that did not reflect the wishes of the majority.

Mr Odinga is camping in the region for two days ahead of the Monday by-election to ward off stiff opposition from Mr Oketch, who has deployed a chopper and massive resources in his campaigns.

Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho a few days ago claimed Mr Oketch was being bankrolled by Mr Ruto, an allegation the young politician dismissed as cheap and baseless.

“When Mr Joho came to Migori last year for the presidential campaigns, he used my chopper and vehicles and by then I was a good boy because I was running on an ODM ticket. He should stop being dishonest and selfish,” he said.


At Uriri trading centre, the home turf of Mr Obado, tension preceded the Odinga rally as word went round that backers of Mr Oketch were uncomfortable with the meeting, but security officers were quickly deployed and restored normalcy.

Other candidates who are attracted to the seat, which fell vacant following the death of Mr Ben Oluoch Okello, include Mr Peter Jobando of Green Congress Party, Mr Dickson Ogolla and Mr Samuel Otieno who are vying as independents.

At Kegonga in Kuria East, Mr Odinga asked Kuria residents not to warm up to Mr Ruto, but to “walk with their Luo brothers and sisters”.

He said Mr Ruto does not understand the problems of the Kuria region better than him.

“Someone coming all the way from Eldoret cannot purport to understand the problems of the Kuria better than their neighbours. We are telling him to stop misleading the people of Migori,” Mr Odinga said.


He said that because of the handshake, the Kuria and Luo communities in Migori should embrace peaceful coexistence and chart the same political direction.

“Now that there is the handshake, there is a need for both the Kuria and Luo communities, which form the majority in the county, to work together.

Starting on Monday when you vote in Mr Ayacko as the senator up to 2022, let us pull together.”

In the entire Nyanza region, Kuria is the only region that gravitates towards Jubilee and has voted overwhelmingly for President Uhuru Kenyatta in the past.

By Daily Nation

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