Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Raila Odinga's star rising, pride in tow

Buoyed by a recent article in the top world opinion magazine, The Economist, that suggested that he will be Kenya's next president, Raila Odinga has sought to build an image of a modest politician, shrug off perception of being an arrogant man, while painfully waiting to become president.

Helping him cultivate this image is his failing health; he has been told to reduce on activities he does daily and go slow on combative manoeuvres - several months since he had his skull drilled to ease pressure build up in his head. And in between all that, his star is rising, with a bulging sense of pride.

I don't know if it has anything to the fact that I once worked for him, but I am still convinced that this man has changed. 

A Nairobi Star newspaper reporter who covers Odinga regularly told me that maybe actually, the aides are the people who have made him change. He has surrounded himself with a number of loyal hot-headed friends, while aggressively building a network of favoritism and nepotism in government.

Somehow Odinga is convinced that he will become the next leader of Kenya, and he sees now reason why he needs to maintain his affable personality.
Honestly, it is not as straightforward to get the presidency as Odinga's aides have been telling him. In light of all that, he defends his friends with rage and privately faults foes with the same intensity of rage.
Look at What The Economist magazine wrote of few weeks ago about Raila Odinga. Such portrayal is emboldening him so much.
''Kenya's future could be bright if the next election, expected in August 2012, can pass off peacefully, perhaps with a clear-cut transition to a President Raila Odinga, who was almost certainly cheated out of the top job by last-minute electoral fiddles last time round.
In the next election, ''three factors should help him. First, though President Kibaki, soon to turn 79 and due to retire in 2012, also campaigned for the new constitution, its endorsement was seen as an achievement for Odinga.
''Second, he has made progress towards stopping and even reversing land grabs in the Rift Valley, including the Mau Forest area.
''Third, Mr Odinga has promised, albeit with wobbles, to send leading politicians alleged to have stirred up post-election ethnic violence in 2008 to the International Criminal Court at The Hague''.

When he chaired a cabinet meeting 23 November, for the first time, in absence of President Kibaki, Odinga had a feel of ''how it will be'', and even his gait has changed. Good luck!

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