By JULIUS SIGEI firstname.lastname@example.org and JUSTUS WANGA email@example.com
Posted Friday, May 17 2013 at 22:12
Posted Friday, May 17 2013 at 22:12
Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga has not announced his next move because President Uhuru Kenyatta has kept him waiting over a State job.
Officials close to the presidency told Saturday Nation the promise made by Mr Odinga two weeks ago was hinged on an appointment he had secured with President Kenyatta, which had not materialised.
“There was a job in the diplomatic circles, yes, but the President is yet to meet Mr Odinga to firm this up,” said the official close to both leaders.
He said it was only after digesting what exactly the job entailed that the former PM would make up his mind about his future.
President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto have been keen to have Mr Odinga, who came second in the March 4 poll and unsuccessfully challenged the result in the Supreme Court, take up a state job — most likely that of a Special Envoy.
He is said to have been considering this alongside joining Parliament, re-organising the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy from outside the House and starting a foundation similar to those of Kofi Annan, Al Gore and Bill Clinton.
But Friday, speculation was rife the 68-year-old politician, who has kept away from public limelight since his return from London early this month, could also be considering retirement as an option after it emerged he was writing memoirs.
Working on memoirs
An MP from Siaya County, who did not want to be seen to be supporting a possible retirement of Mr Odinga, who enjoys euphoric support in Nyanza, told Saturday Nation: “Mzee is currently working on his memoirs, this is what he spends most of his time on these days, whether he is in Bondo, Kisumu or Nairobi.”
Another senior aide also confirmed he was writing his autobiography.
It is common practice for leaders who have been in public service for long to write books about their encounters when opening another chapter in life.
However, some Cord leaders have been hostile to any suggestion of Mr Odinga leaving the political scene, saying, it was a ploy by his rivals to inherit his traditional constituency.
Prof Fredrick Wanyama, a political scientist, termed Mr Odinga’s attempt to marshal the Cord team into a formidable opposition in the bicameral legislature from outside Parliament a mission impossible.
“It is hard to do this from outside. It is like leading from behind, which in the end will make his influence wane,” he argued.
The last time Mr Odinga was seen in public talking politics was when he returned from London after attending a business summit where he criticised Chief Justice Willy Mutunga for the Supreme Court judgment. He took issue with the CJ for the court’s decision to throw out his presidential petition.
To make his presence felt in the political scene, his allies have put up a strong case for his return to Parliament although he has shown no express interest in it.
When he attended a funeral in Busia County two weeks ago, area senator Amos Wako told him to reconsider his stance.
But Mr Odinga shrugged off the former AG’s request. “I want to tell them Raila has a lot of things to do. It is not a must I be where some of my people are proposing me to be to serve Kenyans,” he said.
Some of his allies like Budalang’i MP Ababu Namwamba have insisted that going back to Parliament would diminish the Cord leader’s stature.
“We have no problem with whatever role he takes up so long as it is in tandem with his hard-earned reputation and status.”
Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo said Mr Odinga should be left to decide his future alone.
“He needs time off to make a decision because whichever he settles on, it will have vital repercussions,” he said, while acknowledging that the three-time presidential contender was under pressure to return to Parliament.
Political analyst Herbert Kerre said Mr Odinga will be useful in Africa and the world even in retirement.
“He is an elder statesman who enjoys considerable admiration in Kenya and in the world for his strong ideals and consistency in the push for good governance in Africa,” he said.
Mr Odinga’s retirement would reverberate across the country and open the door for jostling in ODM and Cord right from his Luo Nyanza turf where he has had a vice-like grip since the death of his father Jaramogi Oginga Odinga in 1994.
It would also be a test for the marriage between ODM, former Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka’s Wiper Democratic Movement and Senate minority leader Moses Wetang’ula’s Ford-Kenya.