Kenya: Joho - Why ODM Is Seeking a Coalition With Jubilee Ahead of the 2022

President Uhuru Kenyatta (centre) in a show of unity with Deputy President William Ruto (left) and ODM leader Raila Odinga, during the launch of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report at Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi on November 27, 2019 (file photo).

Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) deputy party leader, Hassan Joho, says the planned coalition with the ruling Jubilee party is aimed at transforming the March 9, 2018 'Handshake' - the political truce -- between President Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga into a formal pact and to bring together all like-minded leaders for a united country ahead of the 2022 elections.

In an interview with Daily Nation, Mr Joho explained why the party is working with Jubilee and allayed fears the deal would be a merger that will mark the end of the 16-year-old Orange party.

The Mombasa governor also explained his future plans, noting he is ready to throw his weight behind Mr Odinga should he win the party/coalition's ticket for 2022.

Q: What's ODM party's game plan for 2022?

A: ODM is seeking partnerships with like-minded leaders to achieve and respond to the desires and demands of the Kenyan people.

Just like any other party that is seeking partnerships with others, we also have a right to do the same.

We've had stability in the country since the Handshake, and because we have seen its success, it is only fair that we concretise it going into the future.

That can only be achieved by way of a coalition that is concretised on pen and paper.

Q: Is ODM-Jubilee coalition the best for the country?

A: Yes. If anything, we have partnered with Jubilee for the past three years and so we want to formalise what we have been doing.

So, those making noise should join the conversation if they really want to live the dream of an inclusive Kenya.

Let's stop the politics of "it's either me or nobody".

Q: Has ODM reneged on a coalition agreement with the other Nasa parties as they allege?

A: This is not true. Our 2017 agreement was crystal clear that we would only back one of the Nasa parties if we won the elections. That was our arrangement. We did not capture power, and so we have to be realistic with the mood of the moment.

We cannot go on with an earlier arrangement when the dynamics have shifted. You don't go to every election with the same strategies.

To ensure peace and stability in the country, we agreed to support and work with one another on the MoU between Raila and Uhuru.

A presidential election is more than being endorsed. It's not like a wedding ceremony. Participating and winning are two different things.

Q: You have declared your interest in the ODM presidential ticket, what happens if you fail to clinch it?

A: I have what it takes to fly the party flag in the coming election and I will be participating in the nominations.

However, whoever succeeds -- we have all agreed -- will be supported by all of us because we are committed to the cause of the party.

We don't run because of individual interests, but believe in the party ideology and manifesto.

Anyone of us has the ability to implement the manifesto and ideology of ODM.

For our party leader, he has the right to declare his interest any time he deems fit.

Q: There's been an invasion by Deputy President William Ruto on your ODM Coast bastion. What are your plans to maintain your grip of the area ahead of 2022?

A: I don't want to engage on that through the media, but there are things we are doing on the ground through ODM.

I assure you, Coast region shall remain in ODM come 2022. Watch this space.

Q: What's the status of the formation of the Coast regional party being advanced by Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi?

A: I don't want to engage on that. I'm a member of ODM and that's our party of choice. We shall continue to advance its ideologies.

Q: Do you have a preferred successor in the Mombasa governor's race?

A: Time will come for Mombasa politics on who to succeed me as governor.

It is not yet time for taking positions, and furthermore, the party has mechanisms of picking its candidates.

Q: What's your take on the status of BBI?

A: BBI is still alive. We cannot wish it away yet because it still has a chance at the Court of Appeal.

Q: A pre-election coalition agreement details how the parties share the top posts, how will Jubilee-ODM address this concern with the uncertainty of BBI, which sought to expand the Executive to create extra leadership positions and accommodate more leaders in top posts?

A: A I said, BBI is still alive. We will only shift the conversation when BBI is completely dead. However, we must not deviate from the main agenda here, which is unity of the country. That is our major concern, and not leadership positions.

Q: Which position is ODM eyeing in the planned coalition?

A: Each political party is formed for the purpose of capturing power. Of course we are eyeing the top seat, which is the president, but this is the work of the technical committee which has been formed to work on the finer details of the agreement. Let's not jump the gun.

Q: Do you feel it's time for Raila Odinga to back your presidential bid in 2022?

A: I have said it before that the presidency is not given to anybody. Kenyans have the ultimate power to elect a president. You cannot win by waiting for an endorsement, that's why I have decided to throw myself in the ring. I am confident that my party leader will back my bid should I clinch the ticket. Should he beat me, I have made it clear that I will also stand by him. We are looking at the bigger picture.

Q: Does ODM support claims for the postponement of 2022 elections?

A: No. Postponing elections is not within our plans, but those advancing this are entitled to their opinions.

As far as I am concerned, the elections will be held on August 9, 2022.

jjochieng@ke.nationmedia.com

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