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What next for Raila Odinga?

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Raila Odinga / AFP PHOTO / TONY KARUMBA

Odinga has run for president four times – in 1997, 2007, 2013 and 2017 – and lost in all. Some analysts have suggested that the scale and nature of illegalities in the 2007 and 2013 elections are proof that the outcomes were predetermined and the results rigged to keep Odinga out.

The August 8 2017 election was also nullified over illegalities and irregularities.

Win or lose, Odinga has been at the centre of the Kenyan political story for decades. His latest actions provoked a fierce reaction from government which took the unprecedented step of shutting out the main TV stations. Several arrests have also been made.

The jury is still out on whether Odinga’s show of power through numbers actually matters. The symbolic ceremony seems to have reduced tensions among his supporters who longed to ‘crown their king’.

The tough talking Kenyatta government has interpreted the swearing-in ceremony as a criminal offence. The furious reaction has further deepened the divisions between government and opposition and also among their supporters. A middle ground where both sides address past injustices and review the relevance of the first-past-the-post electoral system in Kenya that privileges populous ethnic groups over minority ones is what Kenya needs.The ConversationAs a way forward, dialogue between the people’s president and President of the Republic should start immediately to address the exclusion and entitlement that has prevented Kenya’s nation-building project from taking off.


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