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Raila: I want to make Kenya a better place

19 August 2013, 13:15

Kampala - Kenya is greater than Raila and so Kenya should not suffer because one man (Raila) has been treated unfairly in the electoral process.

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga told The Independent's Andrew Mwenda in an interview in Kampala that he (Raila) is not dying to become the President of Kenya.

Raila went on to add that if he had not put the country first following the disputed results and rallied his supporters to do the same, the violence in Kenya would have been worse than that of 2008, All Africa reported.

To him for democracy to take root in Africa, Kenyans must be ready to make sacrifices, and that is what he decided to do. Hee is choosing now not to dwell on the previous elections but on his role as a change agent in his quest for reforms.

Raila asserted that his position in politics was still relevant and that politics is not only about elective positions, it’s a lifestyle and about serving people. This is why he will continue having a place in Kenya’s politics.

Raila did not want to talk much about the contested general elections in March, but he maintained that he did not want Kenyans to rehash the events because it is like opening the wounds that are beginning to heal.

Raila seeks reforms as he believes Kenya is yet to achieve democracy in multi-party politics, if people vote and results are manipulated.

Raila is the leader of ODM; the largest political party which is in a coalition with other parties and together form the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD). ODM has 135 members in the National Assembly and 27 members in the senate, which Raila sees as ODM’s strength in the legislature.

This means that Raila as ODM’s leader has a role of more than being a potential President but that of providing a checks and balance on the current ruling regime.

Raila likened his party to a movement with a particular objective that is timeless, and sees it living beyond him like the Labour Party in the UK or the Democratic Party or even the Republican Party both in USA, which have been there for hundreds of years, with or without power.

In response to the growing gap between the haves and have nots, Raila said that there must be a deliberate effort by the government to cushion the extremely poor against the vagaries of market forces.

On the issue of excessive perks of Kenyan leaders, Raila was quick to mention that he has been among the people who have been opposing the excessive remunerations for MPs. Although he cautioned for there to be a change Kenyans themselves must stop having the culture of ‘Harambee’ which requires their leaders to give them handouts and thus remove the burden from the leaders’ wages. Raila noted he had been on the forefront for MPs to pay taxes, with him lining up to pay his at the Kenya Revenue offices.

The former premier admitted that in his reign as a principal leader in a coalition government with then President Kibaki, he had policies he wanted to implement, although at times his hands were tied as he had to make compromises and concessions.

He referred to his former coalition partners as being of a laissez-faire economy; whilst he was of a social market economy. Thus he was not able to fully implement his strategy to combat the widening gap between the poor and the rich.

This disparity in income levels has a lot to do with the governance system in place, because it is purely centralized, according to Raila. That is the reason they came up with the new constitution, which is currently in place whereby some resources can remain at the centre, while the rest trickle down to the counties. The aim of the new system was to try and bring social change so that services; like roads, water and health facilities will be worked upon and maintained by the county governments.

Right now Raila and his allies are pushing for an amendment to the current constitution because they believe the new administration threatens to hinder the devolution process. 

Raila gave example of the police service commission which was tasked with recruitment, training and transfer of police officers, is now facing an attempt to wittle down its powers as there is a Bill in Parliament which seeks to transfer some of those powers to the Inspector General of Police, to create the bureaucracy and nepotism that they had sought to overcome with the constitutional reforms.

On his relationship with the ruling President Uhuru Kenyatta, Raila said that they had only met once since he took over, but they have a good personal relationship. Raila said that they worked well for five years when Uhuru was his deputy prime minister and are family friends, despite differing political opinions.

On the Hague issue whereby the President and his Deputy William Ruto are facing charges for crimes against humanity following the 2007 polls, Raila was quick to say that he did not collude with Western powers to charge his rivals in a bid to get rid of them in the run up to the last elections.

Raila said that they felt rigged of victory in 2007, and asked their supporters to come out and demonstrate peacefully, but there was an order from the government to shoot on the demonstrators. Thus the demonstrators also turned violent, and other militia organisations like the Mungiki came up.

And when the police persisted by shooting protestors, ignoring ODM’s protests they decided to write to the ICC to investigate the mass killings. Then PNU (Kibaki's party then) also decided to write to the same court accusing ODM of promoting violence.

When the team of led by Kofi Annan recommended that commissions be set up to investigate the cause of the post-election violence, Uhuru and Ruto were behind the frustration of the Bill in Parliament, saying that the local tribunal would be manipulated and that they would only get justice in The Hague.

Following attempts to set up local tribunals failed, Annan had no option but to refer the matter to ICC.

Raila went on to add that many voting for Uhuru and Ruto were under the perception that they were voting to save their own from hanging; in reference to how ICC impacted ethnic voting patterns.

As he concluded his interview, Raila said that he is not dying to become president of Kenya, just striving for a better Kenya.

- For more visit AllAfrica


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