Cord leader Raila Odinga will not be the coalition’s automatic presidential flag bearer in the next election, a key political ally said on Friday.
Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar Hassan said Mr Odinga will face competition to find the strongest candidate to beat President Kenyatta in 2017.
Mr Odinga, 68, has sought the presidency thrice and has come close to winning it twice. In this year’s March 4 poll, he joined forces with his former critic-turned-ally Kalonzo Musyoka and Ford-Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula and narrowly lost to Mr Kenyatta.
The Wiper legislator said he could not disqualify Mr Odinga merely on the basis of his age or the number of times he has vied for the presidency, but told him to defer to a democratic process of transformation and reorganisation of the coalition.
I RESPECT HIM
“If we realise it will be difficult to counter the formidable joint onslaught of President Kenyatta and William Ruto without a new crop of leaders, then one of the men I greatly respect might be compelled to pass the baton,” Mr Omar told Saturday Nation’s ‘Conversations with Book Lovers.’
He said younger leaders had began agitating for change in the coalition, adding: “Once the baby has learnt to crawl you cannot hold him back. Many of us have learnt not only to crawl, but also to walk. The idea of youth and modernity is reshaping society. Ask (Machakos Senator Johnston) Muthama. When you try to stand against a vision it will crush you.”
Mr Omar said Mr Odinga’s support in the Coast, one of his strongest political bases, was no longer guaranteed and that there were “no more free lunches or free rides in Coast.”
“We shall not follow you blindly. We are called the swing counties, but we will only swing to those who reciprocate. We are consolidating our political constituency and we want equal benefits commensurate to the level of input we deliver.”
President Kenyatta toured the Coast, which largely voted for Mr Odinga, two months ago and distributed 60,000 title deeds to squatters, a gesture which sought to rally the region behind him.
Taita Taveta Governor John Mruttu however said Mr Odinga had a democratic right to go for the presidency and that the people would make a choice.
“Raila should go for the top seat and so should anybody else from Cord and other parties. It is their constitutional right. The people, in the end, will decide who they want. Raila and any other interested person from Cord or elsewhere should go for it.”
He was supported by Nyali MP Hezron Bollo who said: “I don’t think it is right to bar or block Raila or any other aspirant in the next presidential race.”
LET THE PEOPLE DECIDE
He added that Mr Odinga should not groom anybody else for this would mean going against the people’s choice. “Let the people themselves decide whom they want.”
Last month, Taita Taveta Senator Dan Mwanzo said Mr Odinga should retire from politics to allow Mr Musyoka to run for presidency in 2017.
Tana River Governor Hussein Dado and National Assembly Deputy Minority Leader Jakoyo Midiwo declined to comment.
Jubilee leaders have been asking Mr Odinga to quit politics as a condition for getting his retirement benefits. But Mr Odinga’s allies have however often scoffed at any attempt to push him out of politics accusing those behind the call of seeking to inherit his political base.-nation