This is a first of a series of articles I intend to pen regarding our Prime Minister Raila Amolo Odinga.
In this Part I, I simply present Raila’s profile, biography and timeline based on publicly available information, including entries from Wikipedia.
January 7, 1945: Raila Amollo Odinga is born.
Kisumu Union Primary School, Maranda Primary and High School
Herder Institut, a part of the philological faculty at the University of Leipzig in East Germany
2001 to 2002: Minister of Energy
2003 to 2005: Minister of Roads, Public Works and Housing
2008 – Now: Prime Minister of the Republic of Kenya
1992 – Now Member of Parliament for Langata constituency.
1970 – Lecturer at the University of Nairobi
1971 – Established Standard Processing Equipment Construction & Erection Ltd (later renamed East African Spectre), a company manufacturing liquid petroleum gas cylinders.
1974 – 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.
1982 – Raila 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.
February 6, 1988 – Released from prison.
September, 1988 – Raila was re-arrested for his involvement with human rights and pro-democracy activists pressing for multi-party democracy in Kenya, which was then a one-party state.
June 12, 1989, Raila was released only to be incarcerated again on
July 5, 1990.
June 12, 1989 – Released but only to be re-arrested yet again on July 5, 1990 together with Kenneth Matiba and former Nairobi Mayor, Charles Rubia.
June 21, 1991 – Raila was released and in October, he fled the country to Norway amid government attempts to assassinate him.
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.
January 1994, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga died
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.
June 2001 to 2002: Served in Moi’s Cabinet as Energy Minister
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, however, including Kalonzo Musyoka, George Saitoti and Joseph Kamotho, opposed this step arguing that the then 38 year old Uhuru, was politically inexperienced and lacking leadership qualities to lead government. 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 and had Kibaki elected president in a landslide with Raila’s famous words, “Kibaki Tosha,” having played a key role in having Kibaki nominated as NARC’s flag-bearer and therefore the eventual winner in the presidential elections.
President Kibaki did not appoint Raila Odinga Prime Minister on assuming office, however, as the parties agreed in the memorandum of understanding (Kenya’s constitution did not recognize a Prime minister then); neither did Kibaki give LDP (Raila’s party) half the cabinet positions. Kibaki 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 November 21, 2005, the government lost by a 57% to 43% margin. Following this, President Kibaki sacked the entire cabinet on November 23, 2005, including Raila. When Kibaki reconstituted the Cabinet 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 August 2007, ODM split in two, with Raila becoming head of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) while the other faction, the ODM-K, was headed by Kalonzo Musyoka.
On September 1, 2007, the ODM elected Raila as its presidential candidate in a National Delegates Conference held at the Moi International Sports Centre in Nairobi. Raila 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 Raila afterward, and Mudavadi was named as his running mate.
October 6, 2007: Raila launched his presidential campaign in Uhuru Park in Nairobi, which saw a record attendance in this or any other venue in independent Kenya. The police estimated an attendance of close to 50,000.
On December 27, 2007, Kenyans went to the polls and Raila and many international observers believe he won the election but he was not sworn as the incumbent was instead declared the winner and sworn.
The swearing in of Kibaki despite widespread sentiment he did not win the election resulted in violence across the country.
In order to stop the violence, Raila agreed to share power with Kibaki in a power sharing agreement reached with the help of former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and signed into law in February 2008.
Raila was sworn as Prime Minister under this Agreement on April 17, 2008 a position he maintains to date.
In 2010, Raila and Kibaki led in efforts to, and successfully had a new constitution passed and promulgated in Kenya on August 27, 2010 after almost 40 years of trying to rewrite the country’s then oppressive constitution.
Raila is now the leading contender for president to succeed Kibaki, who is constitutionally ineligible to run again for another term.