Raila Amolo Odinga
Former Prime Minister (April 2008 - March 2013)
Date of Birth: 02/01/1945
Place of Birth: Maseno, Kisumo District, Nyanza Province
Commentary: Hailing from a strong political lineage, Raila is the son of Jaramogi Oginga Odinga who was Kenya's first post-Independence Vice-President. He is known by his first name Raila rather than Odinga because he was a member of Parliament at the same time as his father (1992-94) and is currently in the house with his brother, Oburu.
Raila has been a recognised force in Kenyan politics since his alleged involvement in a failed coup attempt against President Daniel Arap Moi in 1982. His links to the coup saw him imprisoned for six years before being released in February 1988 – only to be arrested again in September 1988 for involvement with the Kenya Revolutionary Movement, which was pressing for multi-party democracy in Kenya.
He fled to Norway in October 1991, following his allegations of attempted government assassinations, and only returned to Kenya in 1992 to join the Forum for the Restoration of Democracy (FORD). After FORD's split in the run up to the 1992 elections, Raila became the Deputy Director of FORD-Kenya, led by his father. At this time, he also won the Langata Constituency Parliamentary seat which he still holds.
Raila left FORD-Kenya in 1996 to join the National Development Party, finishing third in the 1997 presidential elections. He then effected a merger between the NDP and Moi's Kenya African National Union (KANU) party. At this time, he also served as Energy Minister under Moi.
After being passed over for the 2002 presidential ticket, Raila left KANU and formed the Rainbow movement, which took over the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in late 2002. The coalition went on to join with the National Alliance of Kenya and eventually became the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC). Raila was a cabinet member under President Mwai Kibaki until November 2005, when the entire cabinet was sacked, with the whole of the LDP group excluded when it was reformed.
Raila then formed the Orange Democratic Movement and was elected as their presidential candidate in 2007, campaigning against President Kibaki. After losing by a narrow margin, Raila and many election observers challenged the results and accused the Electoral Commission of Kenya of fraud. Two months of unrest ensued until a power-sharing deal was brokered between Raila and Kibaki.
That led to the recreation of the post of Prime Minister, which had not existed in Kenya since 1964 when it was briefly held by Jomo Kenyatta, and Raila was sworn in as Premier on 17 April 2008.
At the elections in March 2013, Raila again ran for President, leading the Coalition for Reform and Democracy (CORD) together with Vice-President Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka, but lost to Uhuru Kenyatta. Technological failures in the new electronic voting system put in place for the elections gave rise to suspicions of fraud and Raila challenged the result. However, on 31 March the Supreme Court upheld Kenyatta's victory and Raila and CORD – despite their doubts – agreed to respect the constitution and accept defeat.
Vol 55 N0 15
Attempts by opposition leader Raila Amolo Odinga to put himself back on the political map are failing to spark the public imagination...
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Leading the charge are Raila Amolo Odinga and his Coalition for Reform and Democracy (CORD)...
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Both securocrats and the judiciary angrily deny claims that senior civil servants leaned on the Supreme Court last March to reject ex-Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s petition against the election results...
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Ex-Premier Raila Odinga’s ill health and failure to recognise a successor in his Coalition for Reform and Democracy will hamper CORD leaders in forming an effective voting bloc in the legislature...
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A predominantly civilian National Police Service Commission was established but the failure of the ruling political rivals, President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga, to agree who would head it left the NPSC rudderless until just before this year's elections...
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The row has also brought Raila Odinga back into the limelight...
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The losing parties – particularly supporters of Kenyatta’s main rival candidate, Raila Odinga – would say that this was the ‘smoking gun’ that proved the election was rigged...
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KENYA | AFRICAN UNION
Although Kenyatta won the 4 March presidential election by a narrow margin against Raila Odinga, successive opinion polls in Kenya suggest that a sizeable majority of citizens support the trial at the ICC of those accused of orchestrating violence after the 2007 elections...
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KENYA | BRITAIN
Because of this, the Jubilee Alliance tried to discredit Maina Kiai, a prominent rights activist, alleging that he was plotting with Britain to rig Kenyatta’s rival candidate, Raila Odinga, into State House (AC Vol 54 No 6, The closest of shaves)...
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Kenya’s Supreme Court took less than four weeks to hear a somewhat similar case brought by former Prime Minister Raila Odinga against the election of Uhuru Kenyatta as President...