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US rejects Raila swearing-in plot but backs call for dialogue and reform

By Geoffrey Mosoku | Published Thu, December 7th 2017 at 00:00, Updated December 7th 2017 at 09:42 GMT +3
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary at the US governments Bureau of Africa Affairs Donald Yamamoto addressing staff at the embassy.

IN SUMMARY

  • There are concerns that Mr Odinga is under the sway of radical elements in NASA
  • President Trump's representative tells Opposition leaders US will push for dialogue with President Uhuru Kenyatta

US President Donald Trump’s administration is piling pressure on NASA leader Raila Odinga to abandon his planned swearing-in on December 12, saying it is unconstitutional.

US Acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Donald Yamamoto, who met Raila and his team on Tuesday, told Opposition leaders that the US would push for dialogue with President Uhuru Kenyatta to find an amicable solution. 

ALSO READ: NASA strongholds to provide venue for Raila’s ‘swearing-in’

“The United States also urges Opposition leaders to work within Kenya’s laws to pursue the reforms they seek and to avoid extra-constitutional actions such as the proposed 'inauguration ceremony' on December 12," said a statement from the US embassy in Nairobi.

Deep divisions

"We again call for an immediate, sustained, open, and transparent national conversation involving all Kenyans to build national unity, address long-standing issues, and resolve the deep divisions that the electoral process has exacerbated,” it added.

The Church, the European Union, the United Nations, some civil society groups, and international elections observers have urged respect for the rule of law and dialogue to resolve the matter.

Dr Mukhisa Kituyi, the secretary-general of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development posted on Twitter: “I thank President Uhuru Kenyatta and R.H. Raila Odinga for according me an audience on our country's state. Kenya’s bright future will be unlocked by leaders transcending entrenched positions even to the displeasure of some of their ardent followers.”

In the statement the US said it looks forward to Kenya continuing to uphold its 2010 Constitution to include respecting an independent Judiciary, protecting the democratic space for a vibrant civil society and media, and ensuring all citizens have the right to express their views.

Yamamoto, US ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec, and National Security Council Director for Africa Jonathan Howard have held separate meetings with Kenyan government officials, civil society representatives, and Opposition leaders from December 4 - 6.

NASA leader Raila Odinga

Raila and his team may have heeded the call as reports emerged Wednesday that there is a growing alternative thinking that has gained currency within the inner sanctums of the former prime minister’s court.

ALSO READ: Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

The thinking is believed to be carried by the closest of Raila’s personal advisers and family members, who view their primary responsibility as securing Raila the person, his reputation, and his legacy.

There are concerns that Raila is currently under the sway of the radical elements of the NASA coalition who are leading him along a political direction that could compromise his legacy of fighting for democracy.

“People are angry and Raila must fight for them. However, we must be fair to Raila and not spill everything he has achieved in terms of legacy by providing him with only the most radical of options in this fight for electoral justice," said one adviser who did not want to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter.

According to those in the alternative thinking, there are people who want to use Raila as a cover for them to play out their own political experiments.

“They are pushing Raila to very slippery grounds that they themselves would not walk on. There is selfishness in the way all this is being conducted. Raila deserves better advice," said one of the opposition officials.

Salim Lone, Raila’s adviser, Wednesday confirmed that there have been calls on the opposition chief to call off the December 12 swearing-in as it will polarise the nation, but insisted the ceremony would take place.

“Mr Odinga’s swearing will be lawful. It will help prevent further polarisation by giving Kenyans hope for the electoral justice that was denied them under a genuinely independent IEBC. It will also give new impetus for the people’s assembly,” Lone said in a statement.

ALSO READ: Oathing Raila will thrust country into a legal quagmire; don’t

Anonymous letters

Wednesday, anonymous letters were circulated, allegedly from NASA, asking the counties where people’s assembly motions have been passed to provide a venue for the swearing-in.

The head of communication at NASA's secretariat, Kathleen Openda, however dissociated the coalition from the letters.

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