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Why Orengo alone has stature to take over Raila’s empire


James Orengo is no ordinary politician. He is a straight-shooting, fire-breathing, threat-making politician, who has no kind words for President Uhuru Kenyatta and the Jubilee government.

The Siaya senator has proved his loyalty not only to the idea of a Raila Odinga presidency but also its reality. Orengo is one of the longest-serving and most-experienced politicians. He became an MP at age 29.

Orengo has served time in exile, taken part in controversial court cases and been at the forefront of what came to be regarded as the Second Liberation.

There is talk in various circles that now see him as the most capable successor to Raila, not just in Luo politics, but also in national politics. Of course, Baba is not about to retire but if he calls it a day, then Orengo is the man.

Orengo defied the Odinga political machine in Nyanza and opted to go it alone. He ran for President in 2002 for the Social Democratic Party, but failed miserably. He rehabilitated himself after five years in the cold by re-aligning himself with the Odinga name and returned to Parliament. He has never looked back. He was appointed the minister for Lands from 2008-2013 when he returned to opposition politics.

This year clearly has been Orengo’s finest. His victory at the Supreme Court against the IEBC and Uhuru was his finest hour.

Raila’s failure to produce a successor of his stature — capable of taking over the empire — is more reason Orengo has become the heir apparent.

Mombasa governor Hassan Joho had been heir apparent but seems to diminish with each passing day.

Orengo has clear advantages in leading the Luo nation. He has been there and done that. Like Raila, he has lived in exile, been jailed, been a victim of police brutality, been elected, lost elections and all that.

He’s respected cross the political divide, not only for his brains but also for expanding the democratic space. He’s independent-minded, following his deepest convictions.

The writer is a political analyst

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