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Raila succession talk grips ODM

By Mercy Simiyu February 21st, 2024 2 min read

Kakamega Governor Fernandes Barasa has tipped his predecessor Wycliffe Oparanya to succeed Raila Odinga as Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party leader.

Mr Odinga, a five-time presidential candidate in Kenya, has declared interest in contesting for the Africa Union (AU) commission chairmanship.

If he is eventually voted in for the chairmanship role at the Addis Ababa-based AU, Mr Odinga, who narrowly lost to President William Ruto in the August 2022 polls, will likely relinquish his post as ODM party leader, a role he has held for two decades.

And here’s where Oparanya comes in.

A former planning minister and Butere MP, Oparanya has, besides serving as Kakamega county boss between 2013 and 2022, also deputised Mr Odinga at ODM.

“I support Raila Odinga’s move to contest for the AU chairmanship position,” said Kakamega Governor Fernandes Barasa at a public rally in his home turf.

“If Raila is successful. As Kakamega residents, we wish for Oparanya to be the next ODM party leader. Oparanya has been loyal, we do not want any confusion. Those who plan to bring gossip and confusion in this project will not succeed.”

Oparanya stuck with Mr Odinga during the 2022 polls after he was publicly promised the Treasury Cabinet Secretary position during the campaign period. He has maintained his support and loyalty to Mr Odinga even as other politicians, including those close to the party leader, bolted after he failed to defeat President Ruto.

Other than Oparanya, ex-Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho, who’s also the deputy party leader at ODM, alongside nominated MP John Mbadi, and other lawmakers Edwin Sifuna and Opiyo Wandayi have been considered as Mr Odinga’s possible successors at ODM.

At the national level, Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka is considered favourite to take over the opposition leader’s role.

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