Orange Democratic Movement party leader Raila Odinga says it is too early to discuss candidature for the 2022 presidential election.
In a statement by his spokesperson Denis Onyango on Sunday, the former Prime Minister said he had entered no race and “knows no race that is on”.
“Raila Odinga does not believe — that three years into an election expected in 2022 — who is running, who is ahead, who is behind, who is going to win, what are the odds and who will lose; is the priority the Press should force Kenyans to occupy themselves with,” read the statement.
“It undermines meticulous efforts to help the country address delicate issues facing it, like violent elections every five years, runaway corruption, troubles in the counties, reforms to education and endangered national values.”
Instead, the party said its focus is on ensuring the success of the Building Bridges Initiative, “and in particular ensuring that any recommendations for legal and constitutional reforms are fully implemented”.
“Matters of 2022, including who we will front as our presidential candidate, will be dealt with at that time,” ODM secretary-general Edwin Sifuna said in a statement.
Speaking at the burial of Eva Donde, mother of former Gem MP Joe Donde, Mr Odinga announced ODM was revamping in readiness for the 2022 General Election and asked party members to prepare for grassroots elections next year.
He said he realised it was time to change strategy as he waits for the opportune time to ascend to power.
“You have seen me change tact. This is a strategy. There are several ways that can lead us to where our ambition is,” Mr Odinga said.
This was interpreted to mean he was in the race for the elections, which would pitch him against Deputy President William Ruto.
Reacting to Mr Odinga’s remarks, Mr Ruto dismissed the ODM leader as a non-starter whom he would comfortably beat in the 2022 presidential elections.
He however noted that he would not be drawn into early campaigns, arguing he is busy working to help President Uhuru Kenyatta deliver the Jubilee Party manifesto.
“I want to tell him (Raila) that I am not afraid of competing with him, but I want him to reassure Kenyans that he will not cause chaos and will accept the decision of Kenyans; but for the time being, I am busy,” he told Full Gospel Churches of Kenya faithful at Timau Stadium in Buuri Constituency, Meru County.
Mr Ruto said his nationwide tours are for inspecting development projects since he is the Principal Deputy to Mr Kenyatta.
He also defended his frequent church fundraisers saying his opponents are worried because he had entrenched his support base through association with the clergy.
Mr Odinga has been critical of the DP following his donations and even called for a lifestyle audit to determine sources of the millions he donates.
Full Gospel Mt Kenya North regional overseer, Bishop David Kaibung’a, said they would mobilise supporters to defeat a referendum if it did not favour the church.
“We were in the ‘No’ camp with you and we would be firmly behind you,” he assured the DP.
Jubilee MPs from Mt Kenya, who accompanied Mr Ruto, vowed to counter Mr Odinga and called on their party to begin housekeeping to avoid being caught flat-footed.
They said Jubilee is being duped by Mr Odinga that he is not playing politics when in fact he had asked his party to prepare for primaries in preparation for the 2022 race.