Sunday, 12 May 2013

Uhuru woos Raila for State job

President Uhuru Kenyatta (left) and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga hand in hand at the burial of Knut secretary-general David Okuta in Ahero where they pledged to work together. PHOTO/FILE
President Uhuru Kenyatta (left) and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga hand in hand at the burial of Knut secretary-general David Okuta in Ahero where they pledged to work together. PHOTO/FILE 
Posted  Saturday, May 11  2013 at  21:06

A section of the government and some senior advisers of former Prime Minister Raila Odinga have made fresh attempts to have him appointed Kenya’s Ambassador at Large.
Whereas the push began immediately after President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto were sworn in, it has intensified in recent days, according to aides of the three leaders.
Those in the know say Mr Ruto has been calling the former PM regularly telling him that his experience and international connections could be put to good use to advance the national interest.
Confirming the new developments, the head of Mr Odinga’s campaign team in the last election Mr Eliud Owalo said the position was “something being pushed by people in government, but it comes with the condition that he quits local politics”.
“That push is there. A lot of people want him out of local politics,” he said.
Mr Salim Lone, a communications consultant and confidante of the former PM, would not comment on the details of Mr Odinga’s plans and only told the Sunday Nation that “a number of assignments and jobs have been mooted, and the former PM is still weighing them”.
If he accepts the position of roving ambassador, Mr Odinga, who considers himself a Pan-Africanist, would join the Panel of African Eminent Persons which includes former Presidents Joachim Chissano of Mozambique and Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania.
He would take up mediation assignments on the continent and elsewhere. But this is just one of the four options the former PM is mulling over.
The second is returning to Parliament to lead the Opposition, a position on which he has been sending mixed signals.
On the sidelines of a dinner organised by The Times newspaper in London, he told the Sunday Nation that he was considering either going back to Parliament to lead the Opposition or taking a back seat and assuming a role on the international stage.
Speaking at a funeral in Busia County last Saturday, Mr Odinga said he would push Cord’s agenda from outside Parliament “so long as the Constitution was properly implemented”.
Busia Senator Amos Wako had earlier told Raila to “come back to Parliament to reorganise the party”.
The third option the former PM is said to be considering is for him to lead Cord from outside Parliament even as he prepares for a fourth stab at the presidency.
The fourth option is forming a foundation along the lines of the Kofi Annan Foundation and the Bill Clinton Foundation, which will focus on health, security, economic empowerment, leadership development, and citizen service.
Those favouring the foundation route say it would offer him a free hand and an enhanced status rather than a situation where he would have to report to the President or sit in the backbench of Parliament.
But the new push to have Raila take up a special envoy’s assignment has divided his camp down the middle with some reading mischief into the move, saying it was a plot to push him out of politics so that his competitors can inherit his traditional constituency.
Mr Ruto is said to be leading the charm offensive because he believes he could easily inherit Nyanza. Some residents of Luo Nyanza credit the former PM’s performance in 2007 to the Kalenjin vote which the Deputy President brought in.
Rarieda MP Nicolas Gumbo captured the dilemma in Cord when he said: “Opinion is divided on what role the former PM should play in the current dispensation. There are those who feel Cord is lacking strong leaders in the two houses and yet there are those who feel if he became an MP in the current dispensation his role would be diminished. He said that Raila was receiving a lot of suggestions and that matters were complicated by the fact that his “persona was so huge that fitting him in any role was difficult.”
Budalang’i MP Ababu Namwamba said:  “Whatever role he decides to play, so long as it is not below his stature, he would be up there. Whether he becomes a special envoy or starts a foundation, it would be a big thing as he has a Midas touch.”

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