ODM leader Raila Odinga during a meeting with Murang’a leaders in Lavington, Nairobi. March 7, 2022. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

ODM leader Raila Odinga has indicated that the Azimio la Umoja Movement is ready to craft a winning campaign vehicle without One Kenya Alliance (OKA).

Mr Odinga yesterday said the movement would proceed with its planned National Delegates Conference scheduled for Saturday, and which is largely expected to unveil him as the coalition’s presidential candidate.

More than 15 political parties backing Raila’s presidency are set to sign the coalition agreement during the planned jamboree that will also provide a platform for the unveiling of the structure of the movement.

Mr Odinga described the movement as a coalition for the willing, suggesting their readiness to work with parties that have since declared support for the movement that has the backing of President Uhuru Kenyatta. “We will deal with those who come to us; we will not force anybody to come to Azimio,” said Mr Odinga, adding: “People going to come for the NDC are patties that have subscribed to the Azimio.”

The opposition supremo revealed that the parties will proceed to sign a coalition agreement during the delegates conference in what could lock out OKA principals from the formation. “These parties are going to sign documents to join Azimio La Umoja Movement,” added Raila who made the remarks after meeting a hosts of Muranga Members of County Assembly.

OKA – which brings together Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper), Senator Gideon Moi (Kanu), Karua (Narc) and Cyrus Jirongo (UDP) – have been in back-and-forth talks over their intention to join hands with Raila in facing Deputy President William Ruto at the ballot.

The Alliance has insisted that they will only engage in a structured negotiations and have asked Uhuru to take lead of the discussions.

Sources indicate that OKA seeks to hike their stakes in the talks by picking the alliance’s presidential candidate before going for negotiations with Azimio.

The game plan is to get a running mate slot in the event they fail to secure the flagbearer slot. The demands have however been complicated by a general consensus within Azimio that the second-in-command slot be reserved for the vote-rich Mount Kenya.

Last week, Kalonzo demanded that he be backed by Raila while citing a secret deal that provided that the former premier backs him in the 2022 polls after he supported the ODM leader in 2017 race.

The delay to strike a deal between Azimio and OKA was largely linked to the aborted unveiling of Raila at Kamkunji grounds in Nairobi last month.

Raila is the presumed Azimio la Umoja presidential flagbearer, but his naming has been slowed down by the demands that OKA principals want met before pronouncing themselves on the former premier’s candidature.

Initially, there were plans to unveil him during the twin National Delegates Conference by Jubilee and ODM but OKA stole the thunder they reportedly demanded talks before the movement’s candidate is unveiled.

This forced Uhuru and Raila to line up a nine-day campaign blitz that will culminate in naming of the movement’s presidential candidate.

“Just like Raila has said, we will go round the country together and after two weeks I have no doubt we will have a major meeting and decide on our flag bearer,” said Uhuru when he attended ODM’s NDC at Kasarani.

At the same time, former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth – one of the individuals touted as possible running mate for Raila – said the Mt Kenya region was backing Raila unconditionally.

Kenneth said Raila will have a free hand to decide on his running mate at the right time. “We are supporting Raila without any condition because we believe in handshake,” said Kenneth.

Raila said the issue of running mate was not a discussion on the table at the moment but will be handled when the time comes.