Kenya: Raila Odinga Meetings Will Be 'Voice of Change'

ODM leader Raila Odinga has declared nationwide meetings starting this week will be "the voice of change" even as he dismissed critics telling him to retire from politics because he is too old.

Speaking in Homa Bay and Kisii counties yesterday, Mr Odinga announced a raft of meetings starting this Friday, as he hinted of contesting for the presidency in next year's election. The first meeting in Sikri town in Homa Bay will host 100 delegates from the six counties of Nyanza and a "major declaration" on the region will be made, he added.

"Due to Covid-19, we cannot have political rallies, but we will have 100 delegates from the six counties in Nyanza namely Kisii, Nyamira, Migori, Homa Bay, Siaya and Kisumu," Mr Odinga said.

He said the meeting will include boda boda representatives, religious leaders, traders, women and youth groups.

"We will make a major declaration pertaining to the Nyanza people," the ODM leader said, noting that similar meetings will be replicated in other regions.

Voice of change

He added: "We will walk as one. Kuria, Luo, and Kisii Nyanza will be united. We will have several chapters of our meetings."

In Western, the meeting will be held on Saturday. The group will then move to Coast, North Eastern, Eastern, Rift Valley, Central and finally Nairobi.

"This will be the voice of Kenyans, the voice of change. We ask you to support us," Mr Odinga said at Nyamwanga Primary School grounds during the burial of Mrs Jane Bosire, the wife of Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) National Treasurer Timothy Bosire.

During another funeral in Kawahindi village in Kasipul constituency, Mr Odinga criticised politicians who have been telling him to retire from politics. Mr Odinga said he should not be called an old man. Local leaders led by Homa Bay Governor Cyprian Awiti, Deputy Governor Hamilton Orata, Woman Rep Gladys Wanga, Kasipul MP Ong'ondo Were and Suna East MP Junet Mohammed told Mr Odinga to continue with his quest to be the next president.

"I have the ability to climb Mt Kenya in search of votes. Those opposing my moves should know that I have a lot of energy to climb the mountain," Mr Odinga said.

Dress rehearsals

Ms Wanga asked the ODM leader to welcome new coalition partners to strengthen his support in all regions. East African Legislative Assembly member Oburu Oginga, Homa Bay Finance Executive Nicholas Koriko, Lake Basin Development Authority chairman Odoyo Owidi and former Kasipul MP Oyugi Magwanga were among leaders who accompanied Mr Odinga.

In Kisii, Mr Odinga criticised the bottom-up economic model propagated by Deputy President William Ruto, saying, Kenyans do not need handouts.

Governors Amos Nyaribo (Nyamira), James Ongwae (Kisii), Prof Anyang' Nyong'o (Kisumu) and Kisii Deputy Governor Joash Maangi attended the burial in Kisii. Also present were Senators Okong'o Omogeni (Nyamira), Prof Sam Ongeri (Kisii), Moses Kajwang (Homa Bay), Stewart Madzayo (Kilifi), James Orengo (Siaya) and Beatrice Kwamboka (nominated).

"Life is not about dress rehearsals. We have had all kinds of policies, but we have not gotten there yet. Let us make the bold decision now and grow our economy which is only possible through an experienced person. The hour has come to make difficult decisions for the development of this country," Prof Nyong'o said as he backed Mr Odinga for the top job.

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