Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga has denied that the party’s retreat has anything to do with Deputy President William Ruto’s forays in his strongholds ahead of 2022 elections.
Mr Ruto has been at the Coast, one of Mr Odinga’s strongholds, five times since President Uhuru Kenyatta and the opposition chief’s handshake on March 9.
Mr Odinga, through a statement sent to newsrooms by his spokesperson Dennis Onyango, said the upcoming joint retreat of ODM’s Parliamentary Group and the National Executive Committee was agreed on at the party’s last meeting in Naivasha on May 8 2018 and therefore was not as a result of the recent political activities by Mr Ruto ‘disguised as development tours witnessed in the coast region.
“The retreat is not a product of panic or a reaction to any recent political developments as reported in some sections of the media today,” said Mr Odinga.
Mr Odinga also indicated that the party will not gag its members in their political manoeuvres. This seems to pour cold water on statements made in Homa Bay over the weekend by the party chairman Mr John Mbadi, who stated that they will crackdown on members supporting senior government officials being investigated for graft.
The leader of the minority in the National Assembly warned any members against putting an ethnic twist to the war on graft, saying they would be dewhipped from all committees of Parliament.
However, the party's supremo maintained that they were not going to interfere with individual member’s decision to affiliate themselves with any political camp, saying ODM will act when the time comes.
“ODM is not on the campaign trail for 2022 and is not threatening those who have started campaigns.
“However, when the legally stipulated campaign period comes, the party will whip all its members and rally them behind its candidate,” said Mr Odinga.
"At the moment, ODM is singularly focused on ensuring that proposed reforms contained in the ‘Building Bridges initiative’ are realised as a way to a stable nation that provides required services to citizens, he added.
A number of ODM members from the Coast region, specifically, have been warming up to the Deputy President while some have openly declared their support for him in 2022.
Kilifi governor Mr Amason Kingi and Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa, who were strong Odinga and Joho supporters, have ruffled feathers in the opposition by working with the DP’s allies.