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What are Raila Odinga’s political options?

Raila Odinga has contested for the presidency on six occasions, specifically in 1997, 2007, 2013, 2017 (twice), and most recently in 2022, when pundits believed he had his best chance of winning after President Uhuru Kenyatta publicly backed him.

Now 78, the seasoned politician stares at the latest obstacle towards ascending to the presidency after the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commision (IEBC) instead announced William Ruto as the President-elect.

He has publicly protested the outcome and promised another battle royale in his quest to become the country’s fifth president.

So what are the options for a man who is known by many as a reformer and ardent crusader of justice?

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1. Move to the Supreme Court and win – Odinga has already hinted that the President-elect’s camp should prepare for a legal battle.

“We’ve given our members a brief as to where we are in regard to results of the presidential election and they have approved the steps that we have decided to take as the Azimio coalition,” said Odinga in a press interview at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre.

Also in attendance were his running mate Martha Karua and Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka.

So he will likely file a case at the Supreme Court challenging Ruto’s victory. Depending on his prayers, the court will order for a re-tally of votes cast or order a fresh election.

2. Move to Supreme Court, win, and boycott re-run – As he did in 2017, Odinga could file a case at the Supreme Court challenging Ruto’s win, win the case, and then boycott fresh elections as ordered by the Supreme Court. Odinga cited a compromised and incompetent IEBC as his reasons for boycotting the repeat elections five years.

3. Move to Supreme Court, win, participate in re-run – Odinga could also file a case at the Supreme Court challenging Ruto’s win, win it, and elect to participate in the repeat elections as ordered by the courts.

4. Move to Supreme Court and lose – Odinga could move to the Supreme Court and challenge Ruto’s victory but then lose the case as happened in 2013.

He will then finally concede defeat, and possibly retire from politics altogether.

5. Move to Supreme court, lose, fail to accept the outcome – Odinga’s other option would be to file a case challenging Ruto’s win at the Supreme Court, lose it, fail to accept that outcome, and head the unconstitutional route like perhaps swearing himself in as ‘People’s President’ as he did in 2017.

6. Handshake – Odinga has managed to benefit from a political handshake and somehow share power with Presidents Daniel Moi, Mwai Kibaki, and Uhuru Kenyatta. Will he be fourth time lucky even though President-elect William Ruto has repeatedly ruled out that gesture?