1 September 2007

Kenya: It's Raila for President

Nairobi — ODM nominated top opposition leader Mr Raila Amolo Odinga as its presidential candidate to take on President Mwai Kibaki and ODM-K leader Mr Kalonzo Musyoka in the December general elections.

Odinga, a former ally turned fierce critic of Kibaki trails the president in the latest Steadman opinion poll giving him 25 percent of the vote to the incumbent's 45 percent.

"The coming election will be a fight between the forces for the retention of the status quo and the forces for change," Odinga the cheering Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) supporters at Moi International centre, Kasarani, Nairobi.

Raila garnered 2,656 votes followed by Musalia Mudavadi at 391, William Ruto 368, Joseph Nyaga 30 and Mvita MP Najib Balala got four votes.

Earlier, Mvita MP Najib Balala stepped down for the Langata MP, saying the people of Coast province had convinced him to step down and he found it prudent to heed their call. Raila shed tears after Balala's announcement.

Odinga, the son of a former vice-president and hero of Kenya's independence struggle, is credited with being the architect of Kibaki's landslide victory in 2002. But the two fell out after Kibaki allegedly reneged on a MoU.

On Friday, the Lang'ata MP, emerged from a church service and said he felt confident of winning the ODM presidential nomination.

"I have a strong feeling and belief I will be the winner," Raila said after coming out of the Newlife SDA Church. "My family and I decided to come to church today to seek special prayers ahead of the big day," he said.

He said after the nominations, what has largely been an internal issue at ODM will now become a national issue, as the team will hit the campaign trail to trounce President Kibaki. Raila added that ODM was ready to work with anyone after the nomination.

He appealed to all Kenyans hungry for change to vote for ODM. "We welcome and are willing to work with people who want change.

The race will be mainly against agents of change and those who want to retain old guard leadership," he said.

Other ODM presidential aspirants vowed to support him in his bid to capture the presidency.

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