Nasa leader Raila Odinga has again thrown a spin into the 2022 presidential race, saying on Saturday that President Uhuru Kenyatta might not guarantee support for his Deputy William Ruto.
He however denied having advised Mr Ruto to seek his support if he wanted to ascend to the top seat.
In an about-turn said to have been prompted by concerns among other Nasa principals seeking the presidency in 2022, Mr Odinga said his words were taken out of context.
He spoke at the Luo Nyanza People’s Assembly forum in Homa Bay County where he was accompanied by Nasa co-principals Kalonzo Musyoka and Musalia Mudavadi, among others.
Mr Mr Musyoka, Mr Mudavadi and Nasa co-principal Moses Wetang’ula, the Bungoma senator, have expressed interest in the presidency in the next election.
“I never said I will support William Ruto in the 2022 election. I was jokingly saying that he will need my support since his Jubilee colleagues may not support him,” Mr Odinga said.
Speaking in Kericho on Thursday, Mr Odinga was reported to have expressed his willingness to aid Mr Ruto’s bid.
But the former Prime Minister said in Kiswahili: “Mimi nilikuwa nasema mambo ya utani…niliwaambia ya kwamba nyinyi mumengoja eti Uhuru ataunga Ruto mkono, nikasema mnafikiri Ruto ataweza kupata hiyo kama Raila hajamuunga yeye mkono…ng’oo.”
Addressing mourners at the burial of Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party chairman for Kipkelion East, William Koech, on Thursday, Mr Odinga said:
“Ruto cannot get the (presidential) vote without Raila. He will need my help to become president in 2022 ... I am ready to help him if he wants.”
Mr Odinga said he chose to speak the words in Mr Ruto’s backyard of Kericho to tell his supporters that the backing of the Mount Kenya region for the DP is not guaranteed in 2022.
Despite the Nasa chief’s insistence that his words were blown out of proportion, however, they had elicited mixed reactions.
National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale posted on social media:
“Unsolicited support from Agwambo confirms Ruto is the candidate to watch and frontrunner 2022.”