Raila Odinga opens up on rollercoaster year


Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga has opened up about his rollercoaster year that started with his ‘swearing-in’ ceremony and culminated in the historic handshake with his then bitter rival President Uhuru Kenyatta.

In an interview with Citizen TV, Mr Odinga revealed little on how the handshake was achieved but credited two ‘mediators’ from both sides of the political divide on the truce that saw him shake hands with President Kenyatta on March 9, ending the political suspense and uncertainty that cast a dark cloud on Kenya’s future.

Following his ‘swearing-in’ at Uhuru Park in Nairobi on January 30, Mr Odinga said the opposition coalition mulled forming a parallel government with its own taxation system imposed in their political strongholds.

Mr Odinga revealed the heated behind-the-scenes debates that informed his ‘swearing-in’ ceremony.

The ODM leader said the party members had agreed to accept the consequences of the ‘swearing-in’ ceremony should they be locked up. In fact, Mr Odinga said, they had recorded their rehearsals video and would have published them had they been arrested before the ‘swearing-in’ ceremony.

During their peace talks, Mr Odinga said the mediators wanted to push for President Kenyatta’s Big Four agenda but he insisted on discussing the contentious 2017 General Election in which several people lost their lives and others injured in the post-poll skirmishes with the police.

Despite the talk about succession politics, Mr Odinga said he was not going to plunge the country into a campaign mood so soon after last year’s elections even though his rivals accuse him of using the handshake as a springboard for the 2022 State House race to succeed Mr Kenyatta.

On his daughter Rosemary’s illness that left her partially blind, Mr Odinga said it hit him like “thunder” on the campaign trail.

Asked about his new role as the African Union High Representative for Infrastructure Development, Mr. Odinga said his duty entails ensuring the interconnection of energy, roads, railways, ICT, as well as air transport throughout the continent.

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