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Uhuru and Raila skip Ogolla burial in Siaya

 President William Ruto and his wife Rachel lay a wreath at the grave of the late Chief of Defence Forces Francis Ogolla. [PCS]

Former President Uhuru Kenyatta and Azimio leader Raila Odinga did not attend the burial of Chief of Defence Forces Francis Ogolla in Siaya on Sunday.

The two have in the past worked closely with General Ogolla, with Uhuru promoting him to the rank of Lieutenant General and appointing him Vice Chief of Defence Forces two years ago a move that paved the way for his rise as CDF.

Raila, who comes from Nyanza region, just like Ogolla, was a relative as revealed by Siaya Senator Oburu Oginga during the burial. Raila’s mother hailed from Alego, same as Ogolla, making the General his ‘uncle’.

Oburu said his younger brother Raila was ‘indisposed’ while the former president was out of the country.

“I bring condolences from former President Uhuru Kenyatta. He is out of the country and has asked me to bring his condolences to the family,” he said.

“Raila has also sent me here because he is a bit indisposed. He could not come and he has therefore asked me to come personally to represent him.” 

Raila, however, attended the memorial service at Ulinzi Sports Complex on Saturday.

Uhuru mourned the fallen soldier on his X platform as an outstanding patriot whose leadership, valour, and dedication to duty left a profound mark on both the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) and the nation of Kenya.

“General Ogolla’s untimely demise in a helicopter crash at the Kaben-Cheptulel border between Elgeyo Marakwet and West Pokot counties, is a significant loss for our nation,” said Uhuru.

Uhuru’s aide told The Standard that the former President flew out of the country two weeks ago to the US in his capacity as the East African Community-led Nairobi Process facilitator to discuss the strides made in restoring peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“The former president was not in Kenya by the time the CDF died and that is why he did not attend the burial or the memorial service but when he comes back, he will make arrangements to visit his widow,” the aide who requested not to be named as he is not Uhuru’s official spokesperson told The Standard on phone.

Uhuru’s political ally who requested anonymity as his remarks could be attributed to the former president said it was wrong for the Kenya Kwanza administration to politicise the Bomas issue which ought to have remained an internal Kenya Defence Forces and the National Security Advisory Committee issue.

“Their spirited efforts to discuss the Bomas debacle depicts them as leaders who are trying to prove a certain point because the State funeral ought to have remained just that,” he said.

According to the politician, the Bomas controversy and the ‘mood on the ground’ could have led to Raila skipping the event because he would not be in a position to talk about some of the issues that his supporters could have wanted him to address.

“The way the people applauded Senator Oburu and Governor Orengo signals what they wanted to hear and Raila may have avoided going that route due to his working relationship with the Kenya Kwanza regime,” noted the politician.

Political analyst Charles Njoroge said the move by Raila to issue a separate press release away from his Azimio co-principals could be a pointer that he did not want to issue a hard-hitting statement to the government that is backing his African Union Commission chairmanship bid.

While Raila in his statement urged the government to expedite the probe into the cause of the accident that claimed Ogolla’s life, his co-principals Martha Karua, Kalonzo Musyoka, Mwangi Wa Iria, Eugene Wamalwa and George Wajackhoya raised concerns on the accident they want the Ruto-led administration to respond to.

Raila raised concerns about the state of helicopters and other equipment being used by the security officers.

“Many near-death encounters have occurred with the security aircraft. We may never know what exactly brought down the helicopter in which the general died.

“It is our prayer that this tragedy may mark the beginning of a serious relook into our security equipment, especially aircrafts with a view to undertaking a complete overhaul and modernization of the equipment. That was the General’s vision,” he said.

But his colleagues wanted to know whether it was routine for a CDF to inspect classroom construction or whether it was a directive from somewhere among other concerns.

“Was it normal for him to be in a chopper with so many other military personnel, was this his designed chopper,” the statement read in part.

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