Azimio La Umoja-One Kenya coalition leader Raila Odinga meeting ODM delegates at Rangenyo Primary school grounds in Nyamaiya ward, Nyamira County on November 27, 2023. Nation /Ruth Mbula
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Azimio leader Raila Odinga’s political fortunes in Rift Valley have taken a turn for the worst with a number of his key allies deserting him in the span of one year.

In the run up to the August 2022 General Election, Mr Odinga was surrounded by key Rift Valley political players, a stronghold for his then archrival President William Ruto.

But notable names in his presidential campaign have taken a political backseat, exposing the former Prime Minister to a ruthless political onslaught by the ruling Kenya Kwanza coalition.

They include Kanu Chairman and former Baringo Senator Gideon Moi, ex-Kanu Secretary-General Nick Salat, former Governors Lee Kinyanjui (Nakuru), David Nkedienye (Kajiado), Alex Tolgos (Elgeyo Marakwet) and Moi-era Head of Public Service Dr Sally Kosgei.

Others are Kajiado Central MP Memusi Kanchory, Kenya Copyright Board boss Joshua Kutuny, as well as MPs Samuel Arama (Nakuru West), Sarah Korere (Laikipia North) and William Kamket (Tiaty).

While explaining his absence from politics, Mr Kinyanjui, a close ally of former President Uhuru Kenyatta and Mr Odinga, revealed that he is busy in “private business”.

The ex-county boss said he is keen to revamp his party, the Ubuntu People’s Forum (UPF).

“Soon the UPF party top organ, the National Executive Council will meet and unveil the journey the party will make in rebranding itself,” Mr Kinyanjui told the “Nation” in an interview.

In Kajiado, Mr Odinga has lost key allies— Mr Nkedienye and Mr Kanchory who have vowed to work with President Ruto.

Dr Ruto last year appointed Mr Nkedienye as the Wildlife Research and Training Institute of Kenya board chairperson.

Mr Kanchory dared his ODM party boss to write him a disciplinary letter because of his association with Kenya Kwanza.

“If he wants us to return to the voters, we will go. But let him know that there are no votes carried in bags, the votes are with the people,” the MP said at Mr Nkedienye’s residence in Kitengela.

He urged all the Maa leaders in Narok, Samburu and Laikipia to rally behind the government.

“We bitterly lost the 2022 polls, because of many factors. Let me not delve into that, but it has now reached a time when we, leaders, should clearly understand the way forward,” Mr Kanchory said.

Former Narok North ODM chairman Mr Maranka ole Otuni also defected last year.

Political analysts argue that the defections are based on political and personal interests.

Prof Macharia Munene, a political analyst, yesterday told the Nation in Africa it is not unusual for politicians to close ranks.

“Mr Odinga is a sentimental political figure. To some he is no longer a force to reckon with but for others they do not want to burn bridges with the leading coalition. They all formed a coalition for a cause and since it did not succeed, there is nothing outside the norm by joining the government,” Prof Munene said.

Steve Kabita, another political analyst opines that Dr Ruto’s former critics who are now thronging his Kenya Kwanza camp are looking for political survival for the sake of personal interests ahead of 2027.

“They have decided to work with President Ruto for personal reasons. This are just political survival tactics since Ruto is the current President,” Mr Kabita said.

Moi-era Head of Public Service Dr Sally Kosgei, who was a key supporter of Mr Odinga, was last year appointed Chancellor of Taita-Taveta University and Mr Kutuny was named the chairperson Kenya Copyright Board.

But allies of Mr Odinga describe the defectors as mere opportunists with no principles.

Vihiga Senator Godfrey Osotsi accused those who have jumped ship as doing so for self aggrandisement.

“Those who have defected are selfish leaders pursuing personal interests disguised as community interests. We are strongly in Azimio,”stated Mr Osotsi.

—NMG

 

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