Raila Odinga, the 77-year-old Kenyan veteran opposition leader was on Saturday endorsed by an alliance of more than 20 political parties to contest for presidency during the country’s August polls.
Among the parties that pledged support for Odinga’s quest for presidency in the East Africa’s largest economy was the ruling Jubilee which is headed by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
For the first time in the history of Kenya, the ruling party headed by 61-year-old Kenyatta declared support for an opposition leader, a reaffirmation the country’s nascent democracy was maturing.
Kenyatta in his speech at Odinga’s coronation ceremony held in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi said he had faith in his former rival, whom they shook hands in March 2018, after a vicious contest, setting the stage for an era of peace and tranquility in the country.
“I have faith in Odinga’s ability to transform this country and ensure it remained peaceful, united and a key player in regional affairs,” said Kenyatta, adding that Odinga had sacrificed personal interests to promote peace and stability in the country.
Odinga’s endorsement to run for presidency under the Azimio La Umoja (Resolution for Unity) coalition of more than 20 political parties set the stage for intensive campaigns ahead of Aug. 9 national polls.
The son of the late doyen of Kenyan opposition politics, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga who is also the African Union (AU) High Representative for Infrastructure Development, will have a fifth stab at the presidency in the August polls.
Other political heavy weights who announced they will back Odinga’s presidential race included Kalonzo Musyoka, a one-time foreign minister and vice president who is the leader of opposition Wiper Party.
In his acceptance speech, Odinga pledged to transform the country’s economy, promote unity, cohesion and Kenya’s relations with neighboring countries if he clinches presidency.
Odinga promised to create a stand-alone ministry for the youth, roll-out tax holidays to spur growth of youth led enterprises and promote use of technology to transform agriculture in the country.
He at the same time vowed to fight graft in the public service, allocate adequate resources to devolved units, create a civil service that is efficient and accountable and manage public debt.
Odinga said that under his administration, Kenya would become a manufacturing powerhouse unrivalled in the African continent.