Raila withdrawal: Is the Opposition chief conceding defeat?

By Soko Directory Team / Published October 18, 2017 | 12:02 pm



Raila Odinga Sworn in as People’s President

By Janelynn Njuki

The last couple of weeks, since the historic nullification of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s reelection victory by the Supreme Court on September 1, the political atmosphere has been marred by anxiety and constitutional confusion orchestrated by the Opposition.  

As much as it was an immediate political gain for the National Super Alliance (NASA) coalition, the decision that confirmed the judiciary’s independence, also put in motion the gradual fall of Opposition doyen Raila Odinga.

While the son of Jaramogi Oginga Odinga possesses such a significant political charm that by now, he should have been president, the prominent opposition leader in Kenyan politics and the defacto Luo nation political spokesperson, continues to remain an outcast just peeping into State House.

The political misfortune tormenting ‘baba’, as his supporters popularly refer to him, can only be equated to a family curse.

His father, the late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, Kenya’s father of opposition politics, made several attempts from the time of KANU in the 1960s, during the formation of the Kenya People’s Union (KPU) in 1966, when he formed FORD, the first major opposition party till its split to FORD-Asili and FORD-Kenya — a division that led to his defeat and that of the opposition during the December 1992 General Election.

EARLY ACCEPTANCE

Having lost his best bet in 2007, Mr Odinga’s zeal to soldier on for the fourth time, saw him get political rejection in the August 8, 2017 election, making history too as the only candidate, who, despite the intense political labor, has never won a presidential election after four attempts in Africa.

Having realised that he will never ascend the presidential ladder, and being at his weakest link, Mr Odinga carefully crafted a withdrawal that can only be interpreted as to the son of Jaramogi, finally, conceding defeat.

His unprecedented withdrawal from the repeat poll barely two weeks to the D-day can only be said to be an early acceptance of his resounding defeat.

It has dawned on Mr Odinga that there is no single chance of him gaining victory through the ballot.

Instead, Mr Odinga and his other feeble NASA co-principals are developing mechanisms intended to either force a coalition government or a caretaker government.   

STRONGHOLD INTRUSION

The mass exodus of Mr Odinga’s allies and the serious intrusion that the Jubilee Party has launched on what were perceived to be his strongholds, has only left him with only one option, to concede defeat.

A huge percentage of votes that Jubilee got in some NASA strongholds like the about 30 per cent delivered by former Bungoma Governor Ken Lusaka — the highest that any candidate outside the opposition party has ever received — is causing jitters to Mr Odinga.  

And the Eugene Wamalwa factor in Trans-Nzoia has also contributed to the unstoppable downfall of Mr Odinga while Jubilee steadily gains ground.

In addition, the defection of former ODM Secretary General and now Labor Party leader Ababu Namwamba, has also contributed to Mr Odinga’s political end.

Also significant in contributing towards Mr Odinga’s forced concession is the unpredicted defection to Jubilee of former Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar Hassan.

More salt to Mr Odinga’s political wound is the support to Jubilee of Nyali MP Mohamed Ali who has split the Mombasa vote besides a full basket of development goodies that the President has delivered and promised the people of the Coastal region.

POLITICAL IDEOLOGIES

And while Mr Odinga has been losing all his key point-men across the country, Mr Kenyatta has been gaining every day. This trend can only translate into a landslide victory for Jubilee.

Numbers too have failed the son of Jaramogi as his previous stabs have secured him a neither majority vote nor the 50+1 threshold required to make him the Head of State and Government.

Young and energetic politicians who do not share Mr Odinga’s political ideologies, which more often than not favour social democracy, have also made his political life a living hell, therefore reducing his chances of ever rising to power.  

These include leaders in his strongholds who do not advocate for his dictatorial tendencies in the Luo nation and in his Orange Democratic Movement(ODM) party.

Case in point; the selective role that he plays during party nominations of candidates, from Governors to MCA’s, on an ODM ticket has been questionable.   

NEVER CONCEDED DEFEAT

The 2017 Presidential election petition filed by Mr Odinga is not a new strategy but rather a continuation of an old habit that now stands a chance of dying.

Despite all pollsters, both international and national, over the years showing no possibility of a Raila win, the opposition chief has never conceded defeat, in the history of Kenyan elections.

Instead, he always alleges that election results are rigged. This leads to his supporters pouring on the streets to protest the announced results.

Having lost to former President Daniel Arap Moi in 1997, he did so in 2007 against Mwai Kibaki and what followed was wanton destruction of property and loss of lives in the worst ever experienced anarchy in the country.

And despite the unanimous ruling in 2013 by the Supreme Court in favour of President Kenyatta, Mr Odinga still rejected that verdict.

The same rigging trend was repeated in the just concluded August elections where the NASA flag bearer referred to the electoral process as “sham and fraudulent.” He did not concede defeat.

This was no different to his previous tactics and two months later, Kenya is witnessing widespread violent protests that he has orchestrated.

Also contributing to Mr Odinga’s strategy to indirectly concede defeat by withdrawing from the race, is the realization that he might have exhausted all his chances of going back to the Supreme Court with another petition.

And in the event that he does, the possibility of the court asking him to concede defeat is high.

Mr Odinga also fears that in the event that he takes yet another petition to the apex court, the likelihood of the ruling being made against his favour is not far-fetched.


Janelynn Njuki is API Advisor on Governance and Security




About Soko Directory Team

Soko Directory is a Financial and Markets digital portal that tracks brands, listed firms on the NSE, SMEs and trend setters in the markets eco-system.Find us on Facebook: facebook.com/SokoDirectory and on Twitter: twitter.com/SokoDirectory

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