Referendum push:Raila says he will contest presidency in 2017
Kenya: Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga has declared he will contest the presidency in the 2017 General Election. He said retiring from politics should be the people’s choice, and not the Jubilee coalition leaders’ wishes.
Raila spoke during the burial of former Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) presidential campaign secretariat boss Eliud Owalo’s sister, Emily Atieno Ochaye in Uyoma Kagwa, Siaya County, yesterday.
He asked the people if he should still continue with his quest for the presidency, and there was an overwhelming acclamation from the mourners, who told him to go on. “Wanasema ati niwache, niendelee ama nisiendelee (They say I should leave, should I continue or not?),” posed Raila as the gathering urged him on.
He later said his candidature for presidency was due to public demand and not his own volition, urging the residents to look beyond the referendum.
His declaration comes amid claims that the Jubilee coalition plans to come up with a strategy to counter questions for the referendum, among them limiting the age of presidential contenders to below 65 years.
The coalition has hinted it will amend a clause in the Constitution to lock out CORD principals Raila and Kalonzo Musyoka from contesting the presidency in 2017.
The National Alliance Party (TNA) Secretary General Onyango Oloo last week warned that the age limit for presidential contenders would be among issues the Jubilee coalition would table for Kenyans to decide should the referendum take place.
But speaking in Mombasa yesterday, President Uhuru Kenyatta told Kenyans that the referendum debate provides an opportunity for them to distinguish between honest leaders and those seeking selfish political glory.
The President said the debate has exposed those who have made a habit of engaging in endless politics instead of working for Kenyans.
But CORD leaders dismissed the President, telling him that his comments show he is out of touch with reality.
CORD co-principal Moses Wetang’ula said part of the problem was mismanagement of the country’s affairs because of vices such as tribalism, corruption and insecurity. He had said the same thing while attending a funeral in Funyula, in Kakamega County.
Yesterday, Raila urged Nyanza residents to come out and vote for the referendum to correct ills that are bringing the country to its knees. Speaking later at different functions in Malaba, Raila and Wetang’ula asked governors to join them in the push for a referendum.
“I ask Governor Isaac Ruto and other governors not to pursue a different referendum because there is no point of pursuing a parallel programme. Together, we can agree on common issues that concern the people and go into a referendum and vote as one,’’ said Wetang’ula.