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Kenya’s Citizen TV, Star newspaper did not report trailblazer Charity Ngilu to succeed opposition party leader Raila Odinga

IN SHORT: With Odinga eyeing the top job at the African Union secretariat, claims that Ngilu is the preferred candidate to succeed him are false. The graphic and front page making this claim are fake and should be ignored.

Former Kenyan prime minister Raila Odinga is vying for the chairpersonship of the African Union Commission (AUC).

The AUC is the secretariat of the African Union and manages the day-to-day activities of the 55-country bloc. It is based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. 

Odinga is also the leader of the Azimio la Umoja opposition coalition formed ahead of the August 2022 general elections. 

The coalition comprises 25 political parties, including the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), led by Odinga, and the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC).  

In relation to the question of who will succeed Odinga as ODM leader, a claim attributed to a senior party member is circulating online.

The graphic, posted on Facebook, claims that Ugunja constituency MP Opiyo Wandayi said that ODM would prefer Charity Ngilu to succeed Odinga.

Ngilu is the leader of the NARC and was the first woman to run for president of Kenya in 1997. She also served as governor of Kitui county from 2017 to 2022, and has held several ministerial portfolios during her career.

Wandayi is the national assembly minority leader.

The graphic, which misspells Wandayi’s name, reads: “Opiyo Wandai: We prefer Ngilu to take over after Raila goes to AU.”

A photo of Wandayi appears above the message, with the graphic attributed to Citizen TV, the country’s most-watched television station.

The graphic has also been published here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

If accurate, the claim could heighten tensions over the Odinga succession debate.


Same claim in the Star?

Another version of the same claim, with a headline quoting Odinga, is also making the rounds on Facebook. It shows what appears to be the front page of the Star, a Kenyan newspaper.

"Raila: Ngilu is my preferred successor," reads the headline. A summary below adds: “Raila Odinga expected to name Charity Kaluki Ngilu as his successor soon.”

The front page, dated 7 March 2024, has a photo of Odinga and Ngilu shaking hands. It’s also been posted on Facebook here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

But did the two media houses report this? We checked.

Ignore fake graphic

Africa Check contacted Fridah Naliaka, the digital sub-editor at Royal Media Services Limited, which owns Citizen TV, to find out if the graphic and quote attributed to Wandayi were legitimate.

“The graphic is not ours. It is fake,” Naliaka said.

The Star often posts its front pages on social media. We found the 7 March 2024 edition on Facebook. The headline reads: “Plan to alter Raila, Ruto deal sparks fireworks.”

Kenyan president William Ruto and Odinga have been working on a political deal after being bitter rivals in the 2022 election, in which Ruto's coalition defeated Odinga's Azimio.

The version of the Star front page circulating on Facebook has been altered. And the Star has labelled it “FAKE”.

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