Kenya’s former Prime Minister Raila Odinga is exuding confidence about his chances of persuading his estranged allies in the defunct National Super Alliance (Nasa) to join another coalition he is building to back his fifth stab at the presidency
Mr Odinga, a surprise guest at a national delegates meeting of the Wiper Democratic Movement party where delegates endorsed former vice-president Kalonzo Musyoka’s presidential bid on Thursday, said their ‘’paths will cross again’’ ahead of the August 2022 polls.
Mr Musyoka is currently affiliated to the One Kenya Alliance (OKA), a grouping of political parties that made up the 2017 Nasa coalition which fell out with Mr Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) over a disputed memorandum of understanding and sharing of State funds.
Other OKA leaders former vice-president Musalia Mudavadi and senators Gideon Moi and Moses Wetangúla, have in the past resisted efforts by President Uhuru Kenyatta to negotiate a coalition deal between them and the former prime minister.
Mr Odinga, a veteran of the Rainbow coalition that ended Independence party Kanu’s near 40-year rule in 2002, hasn’t given up on courting his former allies.
In September, the ODM party leader extended an olive branch to the OKA leaders when he made a similar appearance at the Kanu convention held to coronate Mr Moi as the party’s standard bearer in the 2022 presidential race.
Meanwhile, Mr Odinga has been assembling another Rainbow-type alliance involving his ODM party, the ruling Jubilee Party and a host of small political parties with pockets of influence in different regions under his Azimo la Umoja (Declaration of Unity) rallying call.
On Monday, he picked up an endorsement from Kenya United Party — one of the new outfits that are trying to appeal to voters among pastoralist communities in northern Kenya.
Bringing the party led by West Pokot County governor John Lonyangapuo and the Upya movement associated with Finance minister Ukur Yatani into the Azimio la Umoja fold is part of Mr Odinga’s campaign strategy to open battlefronts in regions perceived to be his rival Deputy President William Ruto’s political strongholds.
In the Mt Kenya region, the former prime minister is counting on a number of local Jubilee Party leaders still loyal to President Kenyatta to lead his campaign.
The ruling party, significantly weakened after a majority of MPs technically decamped to the breakaway United Democratic Alliance (UDA) associated with Deputy President William Ruto, had been widely expected to endorse Mr Odinga’s presidential bid at a national delegates conference on November 30 before the meeting was postponed.
For the Mt Kenya battlefront, the veteran politician has also reached out to the Party of National Unity (PNU) — the former President Mwai Kibaki’s re-election vehicle in 2007 that has seen its influence wane in recent years.
A number of leaders of small political parties uneasy at the popularity enjoyed by UDA in the region and the pressure by the Deptuy President to have them fold their outfits may also fall into Mr Odinga’s arms.