|President of Kenya|
17 April 2008 – 9 April 2013
|Minister of Roads, Public Works, and Housing|
January 2003 – November 2005
|Minister for Energy|
June 2001 – December 2002
|President||Daniel arap Moi|
|Member of Parliament
December 1992 – January 2013
|Preceded by||Philip Leakey|
|Succeeded by||Joash Olum|
7 January 1945 |
Maseno, Kenya Colony
|Political party||ODM (2005–present)
FORD (Before 1992)
|Spouse(s)||Ida Odinga (m. 1973)|
|Relations||Jaramogi Odinga (father)
Oburu Odinga (brother)
Ruth Odinga (sister)
|Alma mater||Leipzig University
|Cabinet||Grand coalition cabinet|
|Notable work(s)||The Flame of Freedom|
|Nickname(s)||Agwambo, Tinga, Baba, Jakom, Chairman|
Raila Amolo Odinga (born 7 January 1945), also popularly known to his supporters as Agwambo (meaning the "Mysterious One"), Tinga (Luo and Swahili for "tractor"), Baba, RAO, (abbreviated form of "Raila Amolo Odinga") and Jakom ("Chairman") . He was first elected as the Member of Parliament for Langata in 1992, serving 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, running against incumbent Mwai Kibaki. Following a violence-marred election and post-poll crisis, Odinga was appointed Prime Minister in April 2008 in a power-sharing deal with Mwai Kibaki, serving as Supervisor and Coordinator of a national unity coalition government. In the subsequent presidential election 5 years later he placed second against Uhuru Kenyatta, Kibaki's favoured successor, garnering 5,340,546 votes, which represented 43.28% of the total votes cast.
Son of the first Vice President of Kenya, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, the family has drawn unwavering support from its Luo constituency Luo, a tribe whose rivalry with the Kikuyu has defined a big part of Kenya's post-Independence history. 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.
Raila Oginga first ran as a presidential contender in the 1997 elections, coming third after President Daniel arap Moi of KANU and Mwai Kibaki of the Democratic Party. He contested for President again in the December 2007 elections on an Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) ticket.
In readiness for that poll, on 1 September 2007, Raila Odinga was picked as ODM's presidential nominee to face off with PNU's Kibaki in the General Election. He managed to garner significant support in the 2007 general election. According to the electoral body at the time (the ECK), he swept the majority of the votes in Rift Valley(Kenya's most populous area), Western, his native Nyanza and Coast. Kibaki on the other hand won majority votes in Nairobi (Capital), North Eastern province, Central province and Eastern province, taking 4 provinces against Raila's 4. Raila's ODM party got 99 out of the 210 seats in the parliament, making it the single largest party in parliament.
The Kriegler report, commissioned to investigate the violent aftermath of the 2007 elections and alleged vote-rigging, stated that ODM's strongholds added about 1.2 million dead voters to their voting tallies, raising serious doubts to Odinga's self declared claim to victory.
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 slim margin of about 230,000 votes. Raila disputed the results, alleging fraud by the election commission. However he refused to follow due process of petitioning the courts, believing that the courts were under manipulation by Kibaki and so could not give a fair and impartial hearing.
Most opinion polls had speculated that Odinga would defeat the president, though the margin kept narrowing as election day neared. Independent international observers have since stated that the poll was marred by irregularities in favor of both PNU and ODM, especially at the final vote tallying stages. Many ODM supporters across the country rioted against the announced election results, triggering the worst national violence in post-Independent Kenya.
Besides his own father,Jaramogi Oginga Oginga, Raila is identified as one of the leading forces behind the democratization process of Kenya, particularly during the repressive regime of President Daniel arap Moi (1978-2002) and the lead-up to the adoption of the new Constitution(2010)that affirmed many formerly neglected fundamental rights.
Despite his repeated failed bid to win the presidency, Raila remains a towering figure in Kenyan politics;his name and influence in the Kenyan political scene remains formidable, even though he has also elicited passionate dislike and enemity in some quarters, including from leading figures in the ruling administration, past and present.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Detention
- 3 Multi-party politics
- 4 Dissent from within
- 5 2007 presidential election
- 6 2013 presidential election
- 7 Political positions
- 8 Personal life
- 9 Controversy
- 10 Honours and awards
- 11 See also
- 12 References
- 13 Further reading
- 14 External links
Raila Odinga was born at Maseno Church Missionary Society Hospital, in Maseno, Kisumu District, Nyanza Province on 7 January 1945 to Mary Ajuma 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.
In an era of unrelenting human rights abuse by the government, Raila was placed under house arrest for seven months after evidence seemed to implicate him along with his late father Oginga Oginga for collaborating with the plotters of a failed coup attempt against President Daniel arap Moi in 1982.Hundreds of Kenyans and thousands of rebel soldiers died. Several foreigners also lost their lives. Raila was later charged with treason and detained without trial for six years.
A biography released 14 years later in July 2006 apparently with Raila's approval, indicated that Raila was far more involved in the attempted coup than he had previously admitted. 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,it did not amount to an open confession on his part. Among some of his most painful experiences was when his mother died in 1984 but the prison wardens took two months to inform him of her death.
He was released on 6 February 1988 only to be rearrested in September 1988 for his pro-democracy and human rights agitation at a time when the country continued to descend deeper into the throes of poor governance.  and the despotism of single-party rule. multi-party democracy Kenya, was then, by law, a one-party state. His encounters with the authoritarian government generated an aura of intrigue about him and it was probably due to this his political followers, christened him "Agwambo", the meaning of which is difficult to specify, 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, multiparty system and human rights crusaders . Raila was finally released on 21 June 1991, and in October, he fled the country to Norway amid indications that the increasingly corrupt Kenyan government was attempting to assassinate him without success .
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. Raila became the second father of multi- party democracy in Kenya after Kenneth Matiba.
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 his first bid for the presidency in the 1997 General Election, Raila finished third after President Moi, the incumbent, and Democratic Party candidate Mwai Kibaki. He however retained his position as the Langata MP.
In a move that surprised many foe and friend alike, Raila decided to support Moi, his arch-enemy, even entering into a political merger between his party, NDP, and Moi's much-hated KANU party, which many Kenyans likened to the yoke of oppression. The new merger was called New KANU. Previous admirers of Raila now saw him as a traitor to a cause he had once championed by closing ranks with a despot. He accepted a position in Moi's Cabinet as Energy Minister,serving 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 (replacing J. J. Kamotho). It was apparent to many that Raila hoped to ascend to the presidency through KANU and with Moi's support.
In 2002,much to the chagrin of Raila and many other hopefuls in the party , Daniel Arap Moi, pulled a surprise by endorsing Uhuru Kenyatta – a son of Kenya's first president Jomo Kenyatta to be his successor, a relatively newcomer in politics. Moi publicly asked Raila and others to support Uhuru as well.
This was taken as an affront by many of the party loyalists who felt they were being asked to make way for a newcomer who unlike them, had done so little to build the party, given his recent entry.
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. Moi however stood his ground, maintaining that the country's leadership needed to pass to the younger generation.
Dissent ran through the party with some members openly disagreeing with Moi,an unthinkable thing to do,given Moi's reputation as a autocrat.
It was then that the Rainbow Movement was founded, comprising disgruntled KANU members who exited KANU. The exodus,led by Raila was so big with most big names fleeing the party in droves. A hapless Moi was left with his handpicked successor almost alone with a party reduced to an empty shell boasting poor electoral prospects.
The Rainbow Movement went on to join the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which later teamed up with opposition 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, in one of the most epic moments of Kenya's electoral history. Raila's led opposition won a landslide 67% of the vote, dealing a humiliating blow to Moi.
Dissent from within
On assuming office, President Kibaki did not appoint Raila Odinga as Prime Minister in the new government,contrary to a pre-election MOU. (Kenya's constitution had no provision for Prime minister); neither did he give LDP (Raila's faction) half of the cabinet positions as per the MOU. He instead sought to increase his own NAK's faction position 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, contrary to an earlier draft before the 2002 Elections. Raila opposed this and went on to campaign with his LDP cabinet colleagues on the 'No' side, opposing the President and his lieutenants in a bruising countrywide campaign. When the document was put to a referendum on 21 November 2005, the government lost by a 57% to 43% margin. A shell-shocked and disappointed President Kibaki sacked the entire cabinet on 23 November 2005. When it was reconstituted 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, with Kibaki's reelection bid drawing close, Odinga alleged that the government was withholding identity cards from voters in opposition strongholds with intention to skew the election in favour of Kibaki. He also claimed that the intended creation of 30 new constituencies was a means by the government to fraudulently engineer victory in the December 2007 parliamentary election.
In August 2007, the Raila's own Orange Democratic Movement-Kenya suffered a setback when it split into two, with Odinga becoming head of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) while the other faction, the ODM-K, was headed by Kalonzo Musyoka who parted ways with Raila.
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 who received 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.
Raila's bid for the presidency however failed when after the 27 December presidential election, the Electoral Commission 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 and Prof. Nyong'o calling for mass action. Later violence broke out in the country. The government's response was heavy-handed as it deployed police and paramilitary units to counter public protests.
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 election
The next presidential election in which Raila was to run was the 2013 March poll, involving Kibaki's handover of power. Uncertainty loomed over his rivals, Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, who had both been indicted by the ICC of the Hague for their alleged role in the 2007 election violence. The duo had united under the Jubilee party with Uhuru as presidential candidate and Ruto as running mate. Many felt they were unfit to run for office while facing such serious crimes while others felt that their opponents were unfairly exploiting the situation by eliminating them from the race.
A Synovate survey released in October 2012 found Raila to enjoy a leading 45 percent approval rate against Uhuru and Ruto. 
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)).
A number of western countries were not in favour of the Uhuru and Ruto candidacy in view of their pending ICC cases and association with crimes against humanity. Former UN Secretary General Koffi Annan voiced his reservations, as did former US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson who cautioned against the election of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto. He was notably quoted as saying that "Choices have consequences, " referring to the fate of US-Kenyan relations, with a Uhuru administration.
Raila ran for President in the elections held on 4 March 2013 and garnered 5,340,546 votes (43.70%) out of the 12,221,053 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 of the Biometric Voter Registration(BVR) kits, EVID (electronic voter identification or "Pollbooks"), RTS (results transmission system or "tallying system") and the RPS (results presentation or "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.
In anticipation of the legal challenge, Raila Odinga and his lawyers George Oraro, Mutula Kilonzo, and James Orengo, secretly instructed Raj Pal Senna, a Management Consultant from Barcelona to carry out a forensic investigation of the technology used in the Kenyan General Election 2013, during which the IEBC made claims on TV and media that there were "technological challenges", that servers overloaded and that database crashed.
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.
During the Petition hearing, Chief Justice Willy Mutunga made a finding rejecting second affidavit of Raila Odinga which comprised 900 pages, on the basis that it amounted to "new evidence" which is not permitted under the Constitution. Subsequently, 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. Chief Justice Willy Mutunga also directed that the EACC (Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission) and the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) carry out a criminal investigation of the IEBC in relation to the BVR, EVID, RTS and RPS.
After the supreme court dismissed his petition Raila flew to South Africa to avoid attending the 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.
In an important development, the full investigation findings were published as the OpCo Report on the website www.kenya-legal.com and inspired the documentary "50+1 – The Inside Story" by KTN journalists John Namu and Mohammed Ali.
This documentary examines the history of election fraud and the history of corruption in the Judiciary, and in which Raila Odinga claims that it can not be ruled out that it was a deliberate act or omission by the Court not to subject the technical evidence to scrutiny because the outcome would invalidate the entire election process and discredit the IEBC.
Raila Oginga's political ideology can be loosely styled as social democracy, more closely aligned with American left wing politics. His position was once in favour of a parliamentary system as seen when he initially backed a Constitution giving executive powers to a Prime Minister but he subsequently changed to a presidential system with a devolved power structure, which is reflected in Kenya's current constitution.
Raila is seen as the main force behind devolution now enshrined in Kenya's constitution as an essential part of Kenya's governance system. This was inspired by a feeling that subsequent governments under the centralized power structure had consistently abused that power to favour certain areas along political or ethnic lines while denying many regions access to resources and development because of their perceived disloyalty or ethnicity.
Due to an economic downturn and extreme drought, Odinga has called for the suspension of taxes on fuels and certain foods that disproportionately impact the poor.  Raila has supported an element of state welfare in the form of cash-transfer programs to low-income people. This is currently implemented but in a limited way
Odinga is married to Ida Odinga (née Anyango Oyoo). They live in Karen, Nairobi and have a second home at central Farm, in Nyeri County. The couple have four children: Fidel (1973–2015), Rosemary (born 1977), Raila Jr. (born 1979) and Winnie (born 1990). Fidel was 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."
Odinga was appointed by the African Union to mediate the 2010-2011 Ivorian crisis, which involved Alassane Ouattara and Laurent Gbagbo. Raila wrote "Flame of Freedom" a 1040 paged autobiography which talks about his life from childhood. It was launched on 6 October 2013 in Kenya and subsequently in United States on 15 October 2013. He was accompanied by a section of Kenyan county governors.
During his premiership, Odinga appointed Miguna Miguna as his advisor on coalition affairs, whom 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." Miguna Miguna latter published controversial books about his working relationship with Raila.
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.
Honours and awards
|University of Nairobi||Kenya||Doctor of Laws||2008|
|Florida A&M University||United States||Honorary degree||2012|
|Limkokwing University of Creative Technology||Malaysia||Doctorate of Leadership in Social Development||2012|
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- Nairobi Star. 13 August 2011. In a twist of events however there are rumours that he will stand down and let one of the CORD principals Mr. Wetangula vie for presidency and back the Jubilee Party to be launched in September 2016 Miguna Slam Raila.
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