Despite the apparent support from Barack Obama, Kenya’s Prime Minister, Raila Odinga, has suffered a massive political blow to his aspirations of becoming his country’s next president, as the very popular Musalia Mudavadi, who happens to be the deputy leader of Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement, has called it quits after a dispute over the nomination of the party’s presidential candidate. Raila Odinga, is the son of the late doyen of opposition politics in Kenya and one-time Vice President, Oginga Odinga. Raila has had his eyes on the presidency for some time after his late father tried everything in the political books to grab power but failed.
He has been a Member of Parliament since 1992, and his thirst for power has not been a secret as he was placed under house arrest for seven months after being suspected of collaborating with the plotters of a failed coup attempt against President Daniel Arap Moi in 1982. He was later charged with treason and detained without trial for six years.
According to a biography released in July 2006, Raila was far more involved in the attempted coup than he had previously claimed. After the book was published, members of the country’s parliament called for him to be arrested and charged, but the statute of limitations at that time had already passed and since the information was contained in a book, it could not be said to have openly confessed his involvement. Raila was rearrested in September of 1988 for his involvement with human rights and pro-democracy activists who were pressing for multi-party democracy in Kenya, a country that was then a one-party state. He fled the country and made his way to Norway accusing the government of attempting to assassinate him.
There have been recent calls from the country’s Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs for Odinga to answer to allegations regarding impropriety in the purchase and subsequent sale of land on the Kisumu Molasses Plant, where 250 acres of land with machinery was sold for KSHS. 3,6 million, when in fact land in that area normally go for KSHS. 2.5 million for half an acre. There was also a scandal involving the country’s staple food, maize, when Odinga was accused with others of selling a huge quantity of the crop and later claimed that it was not good for human consumption. These and many other political controversies in the past may now come to hunt Raila and ultimately dent his political chances of becoming Kenya’s next president. His desperation to asume the presidency can only be matched by his ruthless ambition to remove any obstacle in the way preventing him clinching the top political job, including silencing his main rivals and disabling their political aspirations.
He was recently accused of pushing for the trial at the Hague of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, two prominent Kenyan politicians who are well placed to take over from incumbent president Kibaki, and using his influence with the U.S. president to have them answer to charges of involvement in post-elections violence during the 2007 vote. But Kenyans have become more politically savvy and it seems the end-game is nigh, if the robust debates on kenyan online forums are anything to go by. It seems the Kikuyu’s who make up the majority in Kenya are not prepared to allow Raila, a Luo, to take over the presidency for fear of reprisals after what transpired in 2007. The race is now seriously open as the contest to State House has now become a close one with Kenyatta and Ruto as the main contenders and Odinga may still yet have to nurse another big political wound. But the fear of another election violence if Raila’s chances are obliterated, looms in the air. What may just prevent that from happening is the apparent risk of some of the country’s political masters facing the music at the Hague to answer to any future charges of involvement.
The door is now open for Mudavadi to name the party on which he will contest the country’s next elections due in March 2013, and it might prove rather difficult for Odinga to find a more astute running mate as the apparent vote winner turns his back on him.
First published on Newstime Africa – Apr 22, 2012
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