||This article has been nominated to be checked for its neutrality. (April 2013)|
|Prime Minister of Kenya|
17 April 2008 – 9 April 2013
7 January 1945 |
|Political party||Forum for the Restoration of
Democracy (Before 1992)
Forum for the Restoration of
National Development Party
Kenya African National Union
Orange Democratic Movement
|National Rainbow Coalition
Coalition for Reforms and
|Alma mater||Leipzig University
Raila Amollo Odinga (born 7 January 1945), also popularly known to his supporters as Agwambo, is a Kenyan politician who was Prime Minister of Kenya, leading a coalition government, from 2008 to 2013. Odinga, who was first elected as the Member of Parliament for Langata in 1992, served as Minister of Energy from 2001 to 2002 and as Minister of Roads, Public Works, and Housing from 2003 to 2005. He was the main opposition candidate in the 2007 presidential election. Following a violent post-electoral crisis, Odinga took office as Prime Minister in April 2008, serving as supervisor of a national unity coalition government. He came in second in Kenya's 2013 presidential elections after garnering 5,340,546 votes which represented 43.28% of the total votes cast.
Odinga is the son of the first Vice President of Kenya, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga; Raila's brother, Oburu Odinga, is also currently a Member of Parliament (MP). The family's origin in Kenya's majority Luo tribe has been a key to their political activity. Raila is commonly known by his first name due to coincidence: he was an MP at the same time as his father between 1992 and 1994, and is currently in the House with Oburu. Raila was a presidential contender in the 1997 elections, coming third after President Daniel arap Moi of KANU and Mwai Kibaki, the former president of Kenya and then a member of the Democratic Party. Odinga campaigned to run for president in the December 2007 elections on an Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) ticket.
On 1 September 2007, Raila Odinga was elected as the presidential candidate of the ODM. He garnered significant support in the 2007 General Election, with majority of the votes in Rift Valley, Western, his native Nyanza, Coast, Nairobi (Capital) and North Eastern provinces. Kibaki led in his native Central province and beat Raila in Eastern province. Out of the 2007 elections, his party, ODM, got 99 out of 210 seats in the parliament, making the ODM the single largest party in parliament.
On 30 December 2007, the chairman of the Kenyan election commission declared Raila's opponent, incumbent president Kibaki, the winner of the presidential election by a margin of about 230,000 votes. Raila disputed the results, alleging fraud by the election commission but refused to adhere to the constitutional procedure and present an election petition before the courts. Most opinion polls had speculated that Odinga would defeat president Kibaki. Independent international observers have since stated that the poll was marred by irregularities favouring both PNU and ODM, especially at the final vote tallying stages. Many ODM supporters across the country rioted against the announced election results.
Raila Odinga was born at Maseno Church Missionary Society Hospital, in Maseno, Kisumu District, Nyanza Province on 7 January 1945 to Mary Juma Odinga and Jaramogi Oginga Odinga. His father served as the first Vice President of Kenya under President Jomo Kenyatta. He went to Kisumu Union Primary School, Maranda Primary and Maranda High School where he stayed until 1962. He spent the next two years at the Herder Institut, a part of the philological faculty at the University of Leipzig in East Germany. He received a scholarship that in 1965 sent him to the Technical School, Magdeburg (now a part of Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg) in the GDR. In 1970, he graduated with an Msc (Masters of Science) in Mechanical Engineering. While studying in East Berlin during the Cold War, as a Kenyan he was able to visit West Berlin through the Checkpoint Charlie. When visiting West Berlin, he used to smuggle goods not available in East Berlin and bring them to his friends in East Berlin.
He returned to Kenya in 1970. In 1971 he established the Standard Processing Equipment Construction & Erection Ltd (later renamed East African Spectre), a company manufacturing liquid petroleum gas cylinders. In 1974, he was appointed group standards manager of the Kenya Bureau of Standards, in 1978 he was promoted to its Deputy Director, a post he held until his 1982 detention.
Raila was placed under house arrest for seven months after evidence pointing to himself and his late father Oginga Odinga collaborating with the plotters of a failed coup attempt against President Daniel arap Moi in 1982, where hundreds of Kenya citizens, thousands of rebels soldiers died. Several foreigners lost their lives too. Raila was later charged with treason and detained without trial for six years.
A biography released in July 2006 indicated that Raila was far more involved in the attempted coup than he had previously claimed. After its publication, some MPs called for Raila to be arrested and charged, but the statute of limitations had already passed and, since the information was contained in a biography, Raila could not be said to have openly confessed his involvement. His mother died in 1984, but it took the prison wardens two months to inform him of her death.
Released on 6 February 1988, he was rearrested in September 1988 for his involvement with human rights and pro-democracy activists pressing for multi-party democracy in Kenya, which was then a one-party state. To his political followers, he is also referred as "Agwambo" meaning difficult to predict, or "Jakom" meaning Chairman.
Raila was released on 12 June 1989, only to be incarcerated again on 5 July 1990, together with Kenneth Matiba, and former Nairobi Mayor Charles Rubia. Raila was released on 21 June 1991, and in October, he fled the country to Norway alleging government attempts to assassinate him.
At the time of Raila's departure to Norway, the Forum for the Restoration of Democracy (FORD), a movement formed to agitate for the return of multi-party democracy to Kenya, was newly formed. In February 1992, Raila returned to join FORD, then led by his father Jaramogi Oginga Odinga. He was elected Vice Chairman of the General Purposes Committee of the party. In the months running up to the 1992 General Election, FORD split into Ford Kenya, led by Raila's father Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, and FORD-Asili led by Kenneth Matiba. Raila became Ford-Kenya's Deputy Director of Elections. Raila won the Langata Constituency parliamentary seat, previously held by Philip Leakey of KANU.
When Jaramogi Oginga Odinga died in January 1994, and Michael Wamalwa Kijana succeeded him as FORD-Kenya chairman, Raila challenged him for the party leadership. The elections were marred by controversy after which Raila resigned from FORD-Kenya to join the National Development Party (NDP). In the 1997 General Election, Raila finished third after President Moi, the incumbent, and Democratic Party candidate Mwai Kibaki. He retained his position as the Langata MP.
After the election, Raila supported the Moi government, and led a merger between his party, NDP, and Moi's KANU party. He served in Moi's Cabinet as Energy Minister from June 2001 to 2002, during Moi's final term.
In the subsequent KANU elections held later that year, he was elected the party's secretary general. In 2002, the then President, Daniel Arap Moi, pulled a surprise by endorsing Uhuru Kenyatta – a son of Kenya's first president Jomo Kenyatta to be his successor. Moi publicly asked Raila and others to support Uhuru as well.
Raila and other KANU members, including Kalonzo Musyoka, George Saitoti and Joseph Kamotho, opposed this step arguing that the then 38 year old Uhuru, was politically inexperienced and lacked the leadership qualities needed to govern. The Rainbow Movement went on to join the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which later teamed up with Mwai Kibaki's National Alliance Party of Kenya (NAK), a coalition of several other parties, to form the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) that eventually defeated Moi's protege, Uhuru Kenyatta.
Dissent from within
President Kibaki did not appoint Raila Odinga a Minister on assuming office as perceived to have been agreed in the memorandum of understanding (Kenya's current constitution does not recognize a Prime minister); neither did he give LDP half the cabinet positions. He instead sought to shore up support for his NAK faction by appointing MPs from the opposition parties (KANU and FORD people) to the cabinet.
The perceived "betrayal" led to an open rebellion and a split within the cabinet, which culminated in disagreements over a proposed new constitution for the country. The government-backed constitutional committee submitted a draft constitution that was perceived to consolidate powers of the presidency and weaken regional governments as had been provided for under an earlier draft before the 2002 Elections. Raila opposed this, and when the document was put to a referendum on 21 November 2005, the government lost by a 57% to 43% margin. Following this, President Kibaki sacked the entire cabinet on 23 November 2005. When it was formed two weeks later, Raila and the entire LDP group were left out. This led to the formation of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) – an Orange was the symbol for the "no" vote in the constitutional referendum.
In January 2006, Raila Odinga was reported to have told police that he believed his life was in danger, having received assassination threats.
2007 presidential election
On 12 July 2007, Odinga alleged that the government was withholding identity cards from voters in places supportive of the opposition and that the intended creation of 30 new constituencies was a means by which the government sought to ensure victory in the December 2007 parliamentary election.
In August 2007, the Orange Democratic Movement-Kenya split in two, with Odinga becoming head of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) while the other faction, the ODM-K, was headed by Kalonzo Musyoka. On 1 September 2007, the ODM elected Odinga as its presidential candidate in a National Delegates Conference held at the Moi International Sports Centre in Nairobi. Odinga received 2,656 votes; the only other candidates receiving significant numbers of votes were Musalia Mudavadi with 391 and William Ruto with 368. Earlier, Najib Balala had withdrawn his candidature and endorsed Raila. The defeated candidates expressed their support for Odinga afterward, and Mudavadi was named as his running mate.
Following the presidential election held on 27 December, the Electoral Commission in declared Kibaki the winner on 30 December 2007, placing him ahead of Odinga by about 232,000 votes. Jeffrey Sachs (Professor of Economics and Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, and Special Advisor to former UN Secretary General) faulted the United States' approach to the post-election crisis and recommended an independent recount of the vote.
Raila and his ODM leaders rallied against the decision with James Orengo calling for mass action and attack to Kikuyus and their property. Later violence broke out in the country. Following two months of unrest, which led to the death of about 1000 people and displacement of about 250, 000, a deal between Odinga and Kibaki, which provided for power-sharing and the creation of the post of Prime Minister, was signed in February 2008; it was brokered by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. Odinga was sworn in as Prime Minister, along with the power-sharing Cabinet, on 17 April 2008. The post of Prime Minister was last held by Jomo Kenyatta between 1963 and 1964 following independence. Odinga is thus the second person in Kenya's history to hold the position.
2013 Presidential Elections
A Synovate survey released in October 2012 found him to have an 45 percent approval rate.
Raila Odinga's party, Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) joined Kalonzo Musyoka's Wiper Party and Moses Wetangula's Ford Kenya (FK) in a CORD coalition (Coalition for Reforms and Democracy) for the presidential race with Raila as the presidential candidate and Kalonzo as his running mate to face Jubilee's coalition ( Uhuru Kenyatta's (The National Alliance – TNA), William Ruto's (United Republican Party – URP), Charity Ngilu's (National Rainbow Coalition – NARC) and Najib Balala's (Republican Congress – RC)).
In addition, few individuals from western countries led by former UN Secretary General Koffi Annan, former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson had tried to influence in favour of Raila the Kenyan voters by issuing threats if they chose Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto. Most notable statement from Carson was "Choices have consequences."
Raila ran for President in the elections held on 4 March 2013 and garnered 5,340,546 votes (43.70%) out of the 12,338,667 valid votes cast. The winner, Uhuru Kenyatta garnered 6,173,433 votes (50.51%). As this was above the 50% plus 1 vote threshold, Uhuru won it on the first round without requiring a run-off between the top two candidates.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) therefore officially declared Uhuru Kenyatta the president elect on Saturday 9 March at 2:44pm. Uhuru was set to take office as Kenya's 4th president.
However, Raila Odinga in a press conference shortly after the results were announced noted that the election had been marred by massive failures by the BVR kits, Pollbooks, tallying system and transmissions system. He claimed that the manual tallying was suspect leaving him no choice but to The Kenya Presidential Election Petition 2013 contest the result in Kenya's highest court, The Supreme Court.
Kenya's chief justice Dr. Willy Mutunga announced on Monday, 11 March that the Supreme Court was fully formed and ready to deliver its judgements within 14 days as stipulated by the constitution of Kenya.
The Supreme Court issued a ruling dismissing the petition on 30 March 2013. The Supreme Court while declaring Uhuru the next President also declared that the IEBC should not have included the invalid/spoilt votes in the calculation of the final figures and percentages.
After the supreme court dismissed his petition Raila flew to South Africa to avoid attending Inauguration of Uhuru Kenyatta held on 9 April 2013 at Moi Sports Complex at Kasarani, Nairobi. The swearing ceremony marked the end of his premiership.
Due to an economic downturn and extreme drought, Odinga called for the suspension of taxes on fuels and certain foods that disproportionately impact the poor.
Odinga is married to Ida Odinga (née Anyango Oyoo). They live in Karen, Nairobi, and have a second home at Opoda Farm, in the Bondo District. The couple have four children: Fidel (born 1973), Rosemary (born 1977), Raila Jr. (born 1979) and Winnie (born 1990). Fidel is named after Fidel Castro and Winnie after Winnie Mandela. Winnie is currently studying Communication and International Area Studies as a double major student at Drexel University in Philadelphia.
In an interview with BBC News in January 2008, Odinga asserted that he was the first cousin of U.S. president Barack Obama through Obama's father. However, Barack Obama's paternal uncle denied any direct relation to Odinga, stating "Odinga's mother came from this area, so it is normal for us to talk about cousins. But he is not a blood relative." Obama's father came from the same Luo community as Odinga.
During his premiership, Odinga appointed Miguna Miguna as his advisor on coalition affairs, who he later Suspended in August 2011, citing "gross misconduct". The Daily Nation quoted his reason for suspension as being "accused of misrepresenting the office of the Prime Minister, possibly a reference to his having aired strong views which may have embarrassed the PM."
His suspension came at a time when the electoral body, the IIEC, was is in an uproar and unsettled by anonymously authored complaints which the commissioners characterise as a hate campaign but which raise troubling questions on corruption and nepotism. Later Miguna, after suspension, issued a statement that said he "was instructed to write my article on the IIEC chairman and the position he had taken with respect to the party's decision to kick out rebellious MPs and Councillors." He later denied, according to the Nairobi Star. Miguna ia now an author to two books of which he has both launched.
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- University of Pennsylvania, African Studies Centre, East Africa Living Encyclopedia: Kenya – History
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- Raila Odinga personal site
- Office of the Prime Minister – Kenya
- Raila Odinga – Profile, Biography & Timeline
- Raila Odinga political biography
- An Audience with Raila – (video – London Sep 7th 2007)
- An open letter to Hon. Raila Amolo Odinga by Jerry Okungu, Posted On: 2007-11-28
|Member of the National Assembly
|Prime Minister of Kenya