With former President Uhuru Kenyatta set to relinquish his position as the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition council chairman, confusion has rocked the outfit on whether ODM leader Raila Odinga should also follow suit.
There has been a debate both within and outside the coalition on whether Raila, Azimio’s presidential candidate in the August 2022 elections, should pass over the baton of leadership to Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka.
Politicians allied to Musyoka are pushing to have their leader take over the leadership of Azimio in preparation for the 2027 presidential contest.
Governance expert Dr. Peter Mbae argues that it will be politically unreasonable for Musyoka supporters to expect that Raila will handover his political constituency to the Wiper leader.
In an exclusive interview with The Kenya Times, Mbae said that Raila has every democratic and political right to continue leading Azimio.
“Raila is someone we cannot right off and there is nothing wrong for him to continue as the Azimio leader,” he told The Kenya Times.
He added “ I see no problem if Raila decides to contest for the presidency in 2027 because, in any case, we still need him”.
Further, Mbae notes that Musyoka does not have the needed political muscle to rally the country towards a given political direction.
“He has been here since 1986,he is a smart guy, but he does not have what it takes to rally the whole country towards a certain course,”
“Musyoka is someone who relies on being given and as long as he still hopes to be given, he will go nowhere” Mbae said.
Raila set to name new council chairman
At the same time, the governance expert argues that it was wrong for Uhuru to involve himself in party politics at a time when he was retiring from office.
“In the first place, it was wrong for the former President to agree on being the Azimio council chairman and him quitting that position was long overdue because it is the right thing he should have done long ago,” he said.
He however advises that the departure of Uhuru should not be a death ticket for Azimio but instead should be used as an avenue to strengthen the opposition outfit.
“We should never wish for the death of Azimio. Just like we are strengthening Kenya Kwanza, we must also ensure that Azimio does not die for the sake of democracy,” Mbae said.
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Section 6 (1) of the Presidential Retirement Benefits Act, 2003, requires a retired president not to hold office in any political party for more than six months after ceasing to hold office.
Uhuru is set to quit both as the Azimio council chairman and Jubilee party leader next month.
Political observers say the exit of Uhuru could deal a last blow to an already emaciated outfit that has seen a good number of its members switch allegiance to President William Ruto.
Wiper vice-chairperson and Makueni Governor Mutula Kilonzo Jnr says it’s unlikely that Azimio will survive the current political environment.
Former Kakamega governor Wycliffe Oparanya is however warning against the talk of choosing Azimio’s 2027 presidential candidate saying it was too early for the debate.
Oparanya warns that the debate could further divide the coalition that is struggling to come to terms with the bitter defeat suffered in the 2022 polls.
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