ODM chief Raila Odinga met his close allies yesterday at a closely watched meeting in Naivasha, even as he plans campaign stops in the Rift Valley next week.
Mr Odinga is said to have met with members of the technical team defending his presidential bid at the Great Rift Valley Lodge for talks which will end on Saturday.
Sources said that Odinga’s early announcement of his candidacy later this month features in talks that would also involve leaders of other parties who back him to succeed President Kenyatta.
Agenda of the meeting
However, none of the ODM officials were willing to discuss the meeting’s agenda or who was present.
Next week, Mr Odinga will visit Vice President William Ruto’s stronghold, Rift Valley, as the battle for the region’s 4.5 million votes escalates.
Kanu chairman and Baringo senator Gideon Moi has also announced that he is in the running to succeed President Kenyatta, but he is widely expected to support the former prime minister.
Mr. Odinga will begin his tour of Turkana from which Governor Josphat Nanok, who was ousted from his post as vice president of the ODM, defected to Dr. Ruto’s camp.
The ODM leader will then lead his campaign of unity in Eldoret where delegates from the counties of West Pokot, Elgeyo-Marakwet, Baringo, Uasin Gishu and Nandi will converge.
The next meeting is scheduled for Nakuru where delegates from Kericho, Bomet and Nakuru counties will meet.
Mr. Odinga will then travel to Meru for a meeting with delegates from Meru, Embu and Tharaka-Nithi, then Ukambani, Mount Kenya West and a final meeting in Nairobi.
“All of these (visits) are to be completed in October,” Odinga said on Tuesday, adding that he would then make his statement.
“Azimio la Umoja was launched in Nakuru and it is a call for Kenyans to unite so that we can forget our tribal differences and build what we call ‘Ukenya’ to emulate the former President of Tanzania Mwalimu Julius Nyerere who taught Tanzanians the importance of unity, ”Odinga said.
However, in past meetings in Nyanza, Western, Kajiado, Coast and North Eastern, delegates supported him for the presidency.
In a charm offensive in the Rift Valley, which is the nation’s breadbasket, Mr Odinga pledged his administration would provide grants to lower production costs for farmers if they were elected to high office.
In the region, Mr. Odinga is counting on Elgeyo-Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgos and ODM Devolution Secretary Kipkorir Menjo to market his offer in the counties of Elgeyo-Marakwet, Uasin Gishu, Nandi, Kericho and Bomet.
Mr. Tolgos told the Nation yesterday that he was Mr. Odinga’s interlocutor in the region.
“Some of those people in our region saying Raila is not a good person supported him in 2007, when some of us were on the outskirts. Now I’m fully behind Raila’s candidacy because this what he would have done for our people in 2007 if he had won power is the same thing he will do next year when he is elected since he has not changed, “said Tolgos.
Kajiado Central MP Memusi Kanchori said yesterday, along with Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina, that they have formed a team comprising Moitalel ole Kenta (Narok North), Senator Judy Pareno (nominated) and former Governor David Nkedianye to mobilize support for Mr. Odinga. .
“Raila enjoys good support from our people. People understand his program despite the hesitation of some leaders, ”he said.
Loima MP Jeremiah Lomorukai said ODM has not lost ground in Turkana.
“Nanok thought that if he teamed up with the DP team, ODM was going to die. He was going to suffer a brutal shock,” he said.