Raila Odinga worried by the rise of Uhuru Kenyatta in the opinion polls

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Raila Odinga worried by the rise of Uhuru Kenyatta in the opinion polls

Raila Odinga worried by the rise of Uhuru Kenyatta in the opinion pollsPRIME Minister Raila Odinga has summoned all his key party officials to a two day retreat to strategise on how to deal with the rise of Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta in the opinion polls and the increasing number of defections to his TNA party.

The retreat at the Great Rift Valley Lodge in Naivasha on Friday and Saturday will discuss how to retain ODM members and attract replacements for those who defect before deadline in two weeks.

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The Independent Boundaries and Electoral Commission yesterday set October 17 as the final date for defections. After that, candidates will not be allowed to change party before the elections on March 4, 2013.

The Naivasha meeting will bring together ODM Members of Parliament,  members of the National Executive Council, the ODM secretariat led by executive director Janet Ong’era, the Henry Kathurima-led National Elections Board and the Raila Odinga Presidential Campaign Secretariat which is led by Eliud Owalo.

The first major defection from ODM was Eldoret North MP William Ruto who effectively left in 2011 and is now in URP. However he has never formally resigned from ODM.

In April, former staunch ally Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi left ODM to run for president as the UDF candidate. In the past two weeks Lorna Laboso (Sotik) and Rachel Shebesh (nominated) have defected from ODM to URP and TNA respectively.

Starehe MP and assistant Housing minister Margaret Wanjiru is said to be also on the verge of joining TNA . Two more MPs from the Rift Valley including a minister are rumoured to be on their way to Ruto’s URP.

An influential ODM MP from North Eastern has also been targeted by TNA. An opinion poll released by the Ipsos Synovate on Tuesday showed that support for Uhuru had jumped 7 per cent since July to 30 per cent although Raila was still the leading presidential candidate with 36 per cent support.

More worryingly, the Synovate poll indicated that both Uhuru and Mudavadi would both beat Raila Odinga in a second round run-off if elections were called today.

It showed showed that Uhuru would defeat Raila with 50 per cent to 42 per cent, while Mudavadi would beat Raila with 47 per cent to 44 per cent.

Raila would however comfortably beat all the other presidential aspirants in a run off, according to Synovate. Last week Raila said the retreat had been convened to harmonise his campaigns and adopt a common campaign strategy as he received former AG Amos Wako into ODM .

A meeting of the ODM parliamentary group and NEC last month proposed the formation of 13 campaign teams based on the regions but did not appoint team leaders.

The regions are Nairobi, North Rift, Central Rift, South Rift, Central, Upper Eastern, Lower Eastern, Nyanza South, Nyanza Central, North Eastern, Coast and Western.

The retreat is expected to appoint these teams that will replace the ODM Reloaded. The outfit has been spearheading Raila’s campaign for the last three months but has since collapsed.

The Naivasha meeting will also discuss and ratify the proposed ODM election and nomination rules, harmonise the campaign teams and discuss the forthcoming National Delegates conference.

Several MPs allied to Raila confirmed yesterday that they had received invitations to attend the retreat that will also review ODM’s chances of winning next year’s election following the recent defections.

“We are retreating to strategize on how to win the elections in round one,” campaign secretariat communications director Barack Muluka told the Star yesterday.

“The political landscape must be viewed in totality. We must review who is leaving, who is coming, and what will be the impact of such moves,” Muluka said.

The retreat will also look at the possibility of forming coalitions with other parties such as Moses Wetang’ula’s Ford Kenya which has already expressed its interest in working with ODM.

Source:The Star

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