Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga is among the three hopefuls seeking the party’s presidential ticket in the 2022 polls.
Mr Odinga also sought to end growing doubts about a referendum and quell concerns that his deal with President Kenyatta is on the rocks in a statement released after a meeting of the party’s top organ yesterday.
The Nation established that the meeting of the Central Management Committee (CMC) was informed that Mr Odinga and his two deputies — Governors Ali Hassan Joho of Mombasa and Kakamega’s Wycliffe Oparanya — met yesterday’s deadline for submitting applications for ODM’s presidential ticket.
A source said a decision to make public names of those who applied for the presidential race ticket was shelved because the deadline was midnight yesterday.
The announcement by the ODM National Elections Board (NEB), which extended the initial deadline of February 26 to March 31, is expected today.
This would end months of speculation about Mr Odinga’s fifth stab at the presidency.
That is assuming he beats his two deputies in party primaries or they withdraw from the contest.
“Kindly wait for the official communication tomorrow. I don’t want to pre-empt anything but we have three hopefuls,” an ODM insider told the Nation.
“The candidates are obvious,” another source said without giving details.
However, an official who attended yesterday’s meeting said Mr Odinga is among those who submitted an application.
“I indeed submitted my application as per the requirements of the NEB. I met their deadline,” Mr Oparanya told the Nation yesterday.
Governor Joho had earlier confirmed his application.
Mr Odinga also sought to address growing uncertainty about the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) referendum, following suggestions by some quarters that the draft bill does not necessarily require a plebiscite and lately a call by some of his allies, including Mr Oparanya, that it is no longer a priority because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Odinga said Kenyans must have a say in the implementation of the BBI through a vote.
“BBI must be subjected to a referendum because it entails a fundamental reorganisation of the Executive,” Mr Odinga said in the statement after the meeting at his home in Karen.
The ODM chief asked Parliament, which is on recess, to speed up the decision on the document – with eyes on the vote before the end of the year.
Committed to handshake
“In the spirit of the (March 9, 2018) Handshake and the wider goals of the BBI Amendment Bill, we agreed on the need for Parliament to fast track the process and release the document to the public to enable Kenyans have a final say on the envisaged changes to the Constitution,” Mr Odinga said.
He added that ODM is committed to the handshake between him and President Uhuru Kenyatta.
“The meeting reaffirmed ODM’s commitment to the spirit of the Handshake… that has created an environment of peace and stability required to address the pressing issues facing the country,” the statement added.
Mr Odinga’s talk on the referendum comes amid reports of a plot by some leaders who support the President to sidestep the initiative.
Among the reasons being advanced for rejecting the referendum are the ban on political rallies to stop the spread of coronavirus, the economic state of the country and some ODM members developing cold feet about the campaign following claims that Mr Odinga is being undermined by the President’s followers.
Mr Oparanya on Tuesday suggested that the referendum be postponed.
“There’s no need of a referendum this year if the National Treasury does not have money. We should plan to hold the referendum next year when the country’s economy has stabilised and the Covid-19 pandemic has been contained,” the Kakamega county boss said.
ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna had denied knowledge of money set aside for BBI, saying, should there be anything, the funds should be used to cushion Kenyans against the effects of the pandemic.
BBI draft Bill
“There’s no money to be spent on BBI. If there is a single shilling going into BBI, we can use it to buy vaccines,” Mr Sifuna said.
Among those who have said a referendum is not a must for the BBI draft Bill to pass is Mr Kamotho Waiganjo, an Advocate of the High Court.
“The Bill would need a referendum if rejected by more than half of the members of the National Assembly and Senate. This is a near impossibility,” Mr Kamotho said.
“Secondly, the Bill would be required to go to a referendum if it contains any of the 10 protected provisions set out in Article 255 of the Constitution.”
He added that he is not convinced it expressly contains any of the protected issues.
But BBI Joint Secretary chairman Paul Mwangi disagreed.
He cited Article 257 (10) of the Constitution, which states: “If either House of Parliament fails to pass the bill, or the bill relates to a matter mentioned in 255 (1), the proposed amendment shall be submitted to the people in a referendum.”
The creation of the office of Prime Minister, appointment of MPs as ministers and the inclusion of technocrat ministers as ex-officio lawmakers are some of the aspects Kenyans will be required to vote for or against in the plebiscite.