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Why Mukhisa Kituyi quit presidential race to join forces with Raila Odinga

Former United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) secretary-general Dr Mukhisa Kituyi (pictured) had kept his supporters in the dark about his plans since he announced his interest in vying for the presidency before quitting the race on Friday.

The former Trade Minister, who served in retired President Mwai Kibaki’s administration between 2002 and 2007, quit his Geneva-based job to vie in the August race.

Before dropping out in favour of ODM leader Raila Odinga, Kituyi had been sending mixed signals on whether or not he will be on the ballot about five months to the August 9 General Election, sparking off speculation on his next move.

But it was clear Dr Kituyi was struggling to find his footing in local politics, months after he declared his presidential bid. He had suddenly gone quiet, keeping the country guessing.

The former lawmaker, who served as Kimilili MP between 2002 and 2007, appeared in public after a long absence to announce he will back Raila’s presidential quest.

Dr Kituyi joined Raila allies during Azimio la Umoja brigade’s stopovers at Kimilili, Webuye, and Kanduyi towns. 

He explained to the crowd and Kenyans why he decided to shelve his presidential ambitions and throw his weight behind Raila.

Dr Kituyi said he has been holding talks with Raila and agreed to finalise the discussions before Raila’s tour of Western Kenya.

“I want to tell Raila that I had promised my people that I was in the presidential race but if our unity will help us stop that other person from ascending to power, we shall work together to achieve that,” Mukhisa told Azimio la Umoja supporters in his Kimilili home turf.

“I will ask my people for permission so that we can solemnise our working together.”

The development comes as a boost for Raila who has been rallying Western Kenya residents to back his fifth stab at the top seat.

“Raila has asked me to join him in national campaigns. I told him that if my people agree to be part of the journey, I will accept his request and join him,” said Kituyi.

Kituyi joins a growing list of politicians supporting Raila from Western region including Defence Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa, governors Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega), Sospeter Ojaamong (Busia), Wilber Ottichilo (Vihiga) and Wycliffe Wangamati as well as Cotu Secretary-General Francis Atwoli.

Earlier, Kituyi had embarked on popularising his Party of Growth and Prosperity and his presidential bid in various parts of the country with a promise to launch his candidature at an opportune time.

The former MP also held meetings with opinion leaders, aspirants for various elective seats, representatives of boda boda riders, scholars and former MCAs to share his vision and aspirations.

Political pundits argue that Kituyi realised he lacked the capacity to mount a serious presidential campaign. On Friday, he appeared to pour cold water on Deputy President William Ruto’s presidential bid. He said Ruto was making a fool of himself by talking ill of the government and President Uhuru Kenyatta abroad.

“When you speak ill about your government abroad, the whites see you as a useless leader,” he told a rally in Bungoma.

Kituyi believes youths will play a key role in shaping the country’s politics by participating in August 9 polls.

“No country can change its political history without involving the youth. Young people must come out to be players and not spectators in the national liberation of our country. I did it at their age as a university student,” said Kituyi. 

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