Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara has joined Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s campaign team.
Mr Imanyara, the Chama Cha Uzalendo (CCU) party leader, was also designated as deputy patron of the “Friends of Raila” lobby.
Speaking to his supporters at the lobby’s offices in Kileleshwa, Nairobi, Mr Odinga said the time had come for the people who have fought for reforms in the country to come together and ensure the country succeeded in its quest to get a fresh start.
“The gains made by the people of Kenya at great sacrifice shall not be surrendered to the forces of reaction and retrogression,” said the Prime Minister.
He warned that Kenya’s 22-month-old Constitution risked being mutilated, just like the independence Constitution, if those who did not believe in reforms were allowed to take the lead in implementing it.
Mr Imanyara said he had gladly made the move because he believed that the time had come for “Kenya to get the change that it desires”.
“When President Kibaki retires in a few months, the person who ought to succeed him is Raila Odinga,” said Mr Imanyara.
The CCU party chief said more MPs from Meru were ready to join Mr Odinga’s camp, adding that they were attending a funeral on Monday.
Mr Imanyara said Mr Odinga’s reform credentials were “consistent”.
Friends of Raila officials Eliud Owalo and Hassan Omar said Mr Imanyara was just the “first catch” and showed that the PM was now making political inroads in areas that were hostile to his unsuccessful presidential bid in 2007.
Mr Imanyara and Mr Odinga recalled their days in Ford Kenya, in the early 90s when Mr Imanyara was the secretary general of the party, while Mr Odinga was the Director of Elections.
At the time, Mr Odinga’s father, Mr Jaramogi Oginga Odinga was Ford Kenya’s flagbearer for the presidency in the 1992 elections.
Mr Odinga and Mr Imanyara termed each other as people who had tasted jail because of their love for democracy and reform.
“Raila has spent more time in prison than any other Kenyan fighting for change,” said Mr Imanyara.
Mr Odinga noted: “Gitobu was also a jailbird like myself”.
“If someone was not part of the country’s reform struggle, they cannot be part of the reform destiny,” said Mr Hassan.