Raila Odinga of Kenya: I Will Declare My Candidacy After Voter Registration

Raila Odinga, the leader of the ODM, will announce his decision on whether to run for president at the end of this month.

Mr Odinga made it clear yesterday in Nyando, Kisumu County, and Luanda in Vihiga that his decision to run will be determined by the outcome of the ongoing voter registration, which ends this month, even as he lamented the low registration turnout in his support bases.

While expressing his willingness to challenge Deputy President William Ruto, Mr Odinga stated that a low registration turnout could force him to withdraw from the race.

“You must all get your shield and spear for me to be able to have a strong command against our opponents,” said the ODM leader, who called on his supporters to prepare for the August 9 General Election by acquiring national ID cards and registering as voters in large numbers.

“For me to be able to face my opponents for the top seat, I need to have a strong army behind me,” he said in Nyando.

He repeated the same remarks in Luanda later in the day, where he said that he intends to make his presidential declaration at the end of the month after seeing the voter registration strength in his support bases.

Run for the presidency

“I have said I will make my decision to run for the presidency at the end of the month. But my supporters should arm themselves with voters’ cards. I will declare after I have seen how people have registered,” said Mr Odinga in Luanda where he was accompanied by a host of leaders.

The ODM leader, who is currently popularising his unity drive and working with President Uhuru Kenyatta through the handshake, has been hesitant to declare his bid.

During his visit to the two counties, he called on the youth who are 18 to take advantage of the one-month voter registration.

“I am not happy because young people in this region are very reluctant to register as voters while those from other regions are beating us,” he said during the ground breaking ceremony of the proposed Raila Odinga Secondary School in Nyando financed by China Construction Third Engineering Bureau Company Ltd.

In Western, an additional 1.2 million new voters are expected to register by the close of the exercise.

Mr Odinga was in Vihiga, the home of ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi, to sensitise the public to enlist as voters.

He dismissed those who had written him off saying he still has the sway and capacity to take over leadership after the exit of President Kenyatta, who is serving his second and final term in office.

Increased voter registration

ODM secretary-general Edwin Sifuna said for the opposition leader to be successful in his political ambition, leaders supporting him should not to be diverted by local politics but focus on Mr Odinga’s presidential campaign.

Mr Sifuna said there are many other leaders from the community who are interested in the top seat but called on Western to listen to Mr Odinga.

He said the community wants to directly engage with the ODM leader and not through proxies.

Other leaders present at the event were MPs Godfrey Osotsi (Nominated), Jared Okello (Nyando), Chris Omulele (Luanda), Caleb Amisi (Saboti) and Samuel Atandi (Alego Usonga).

They all called for increased voter registration in the region.

At one of the registration centres at Khwiliba Primary School in Luanda, Mr Odinga said he had seen only two BVR kits.

He called on IEBC to increase the number of the kits to boost the efficiency of voter registration. The former Prime Minister enumerated the agenda he has for the country.

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