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Minority leader Opiyo Wandayi speaks on Raila’s possible absence from ODM

National Assembly Minority leader Opiyo Wandayi appears to have thrown his hat in the ring in the race to replace Raila Odinga as Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) boss.

In a TV interview, Wandayi, who doubles up as Ugunja MP, further played down suggestions the impending departure of Mr Odinga could split the opposition party down the middle.

After finishing second to President William Ruto in the 2022 presidential elections, Mr Odinga is gunning for the African Union Commision (AUC) chairmanship seat and if successful could be forced to take a back seat from both local politics and ODM, a political outfit he has led for two decades.

“Let me put it clear that the question of anyone attempting to replace Raila as the ODM party leader is farfetched, If he steps aside once elected as the Chairperson of the Africa Union Commission, I am also equal to the task,” said Wandayi.

The lawmaker also stressed the need for unity within the country’s main opposition party ahead of Mr Odinga’s impending absence.

“The attempt to assign me a camp or to put me in a camp, is something I denounce. There are no camps that I know of in ODM; it remains one indivisible movement under Raila.”

“Even if there can be factions in ODM, I cannot identify myself and reduce myself to identifying with a party in a coalition.”

Wandayi is of the opinion that Mr Odinga will continue guiding the party even in his absence.

In public, Odinga, a five-time presidential candidate, has insisted he will remain active in local politics even if he takes up the offer at the African Union.

Despite his stance, several leaders have been proposed as possible replacements at ODM should Mr Odinga depart.

They include former Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho, his Kakamega counterpart Wycliffe Oparanya, nominated lawmaker John Badi who doubles up as ODM chairman, plus youthful; lawmakers in the frame of Babu Owino and Edwin Sifuna.

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