According to legal requirements, former president Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to exit his position as Azimio la Umoja council chairperson.
Should the former president not vacate his position, he will not be able to enjoy his retirement benefits.
This is in respect to Presidential Retirements Benefits Act of 2003 that states, “A retired president shall not hold office in any political party for more than six months after ceasing to hold office as President.”
Kenyans.co.ke talked to experts and compiled a list of potential candidates projected to replace Uhuru as Azimio chair.
ODM Leader Raila Odinga addresses the Jumuiya ya Kaunti za Pwani summit held in Tana River County on December 9, 2022.
Political analyst Maimuna Mwidau believes that the former prime minister is a top contender for the top position in the coalition.
“With Uhuru resigning and subsequently retiring from active local politics, the former prime minister can transition to the top position although there are other candidates who cam also take that position,” she told Kenyans.co.ke
While lawyer Duncan Okatch agrees that Raila Odinga can transition to become Azimio chairperson, he disagreed that there are other potential candidates who can replace Uhuru.
“It will be Raila Odinga who will automatically take charge of Azimio when Uhuru resigns, because giving that position to any other person will mean Raila’s control will be diminished.
“Another person holding that position will have more influence and clout and in the case an office of the leader of position is created, it will definitely go to the chairman,” the seasoned lawyer who is also an advocate of the High Court explained.
Former Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya Alliance running mate, Martha Karua addresses global leaders in the Black Women Executive Leadership Program in London, United Kingdom on October 20, 2022.
Martha Karua has also been touted as a potential replacement for Uhuru Kenyatta as chair of Azimio coalition.
The former Raila’s running mate does not hold a formal position in Azimio coalition party structure at the moment but experts reckon that she would be more useful for the role.
“While Karua can perform remarkably well at the helm,I do not expect her to be given such position as she is more useful as legal pro in the coalition.
“Karua will be needed to point out legalities and illegalities that can affect the coalition and advise accordingly and being Azimio chair will give her unnecessary burden that will reduce her productivity,” Maimuna told Kenyans.co.ke.
Wiper Party Leader Kalonzo Musyoka during a past press conference
Kalonzo Musyoka would be the best alternative to Raila Odinga as Azimio chair according to Maimuna Mwidau.
“Kalonzo has come of age and I believe he can work well in guiding the coalition to posterity.
“He has the charisma and in the recent days, he has shown that he is invested fully in the coalition,” she remarked.
Okatch, on the other hand, felt that Kalonzo getting that position would make him more powerful than Raila – a move he argued was impractical since Azimio is Raila’s brainchild.
“Raila is the de-facto opposition leader, giving any other person whether it is Kalonzo or Martha Karua will be undermining the former prime minister,” he explained.
Jubilee Secretary General Jeremiah Kioni.
With the former president resigning from active politics, former Ndaragwa Constituency Member of Parliament Jeremiah Kioni will be the highest-ranking Jubilee Party member in the coalition – which then better places him as Uhuru’s successor.
Maimuna, however, has reservations whether Jeremiah Kioni can fill the shoes left by the former Head of State.
“Kioni is a good politician but I do not think he possesses the temerity to hold such a position.
“A coalition like Azimio needs someone who can make tough decisions and I do not think the former Ndaragwa MP can execute that,” the political analyst stated.
The future of Azimio
Lawyer Martin Oloo opined that Azimio leaders and members should not feel betrayed by the former President stepping down as coalition’s chair.
“What happened in the last elections is water under the bridge. Azimio did not make it and continuing to blame the former President does not help Raila or the coalition.
“What Azimio should do is take notes and move forward but more importantly, they should realize it was not proper for a sitting president to be the chair of a coalition party in the first place,” the seasoned lawyer remarked.
What is next for Raila Odinga?
Maimuna holds the view that Raila will only get stronger following the imminent resignation of Uhuru Kenyatta.
“There is no cause for alarm, Raila will continue strategizing and get stronger politically. He still has support from Mt Kenya through Martha Karua and even if it was not the case, Raila has shown time and again that he can mobilise on his own,” the analyst assured Azimio supporters.
Her sentiments were corroborated by Duncan Okatch who remarked, “The resignation will be strategic by that, whatever actions Azimio takes, it still maintains the relationship between the current and former president.”
“Uhuru resigning will strengthen Raila as it will give him room to do what he does best, with Uhuru as chair he has to consult but him gone, he does not have to stress over his ideas and ideals as former president,” the lawyer concluded.
A collage of President William Ruto and Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga.