Raila Odinga: Daniel Moi and I buried our differences

Retired president Daniel Moi with former Prime Minister Raila Odinga at his Kabarak residence on April 12, 2018. [David Kanda, Standard]

ODM Leader Raila Odinga, who was among those detained during President Moi's reign, spoke out about his reconciliation with the country's second president whom he praised as an elder statesman.

Raila said Moi inherited a fairly polarised political landscape when he became president in 1978 and "he struggled to unite the people, often with mixed results."

The decision by Moi's administration to make the country a single-party state "became a major point of disagreement in our politics that caused the clamour for the repeal of Section 2 (a)," he explained, adding Moi allowed the country to return to multiparty politics and " was constantly able to ease pressure in the country through incremental reforms."

Detained after the 1982 attempted coup, Raila would later work together with Moi following the 1997 presidential election.

"Moi and I reconciled after the political differences of the 1980s and early 90s and we were able to work together to bring more reforms to the country," he said. 

"Our cooperation gave way to merger with his party KANU, which put the country firmly on the path to a new constitution by enabling the formation of the Constitution of Kenya Review Commission (CKRC)," Raila said recalling his NDP's merger with Kanu.

But Raila would later lead a walkout from Kanu after President Moi picked Uhuru Kenyatta as his preferred successor. The rebel faction identified as the Rainbow Alliance that later joined NAK of Mwai Kibaki, Kijana Wamalwa and Charity Ngilu to form Narc, the opposition coalition that ended the independent party's reign.

"In his retirement, again to his credit, President Moi carried and conducted himself with complete dignity befitting an elder statesman," Raila said.

Raila recalled he first met President Moi in 1958 when his father Jaramogi Oginga Odinga invited the first African elected members of the Legislative Council to our home in Bondo.

"I was a teenager and Moi, who represented the Rift Valley, was in the company of Masinde Muliro, Lawrence Oguda, Tom Mboya, Bernard Mate, James Muimi and Ronald Ngala. They operated under the auspices of African Elected Members Organisation, with Jaramogi as their chairman. From that initial encounter, our paths and careers were later to cross in various capacities and roles," he recounted.

"President Moi has had a chequered career and leaves behind a rich history, from representing the Rift Valley in the Legislative Council to MP for Baringo Central, Vice President, and President.

I am grateful for the time I spent with him. At this moment of mourning, our hearts and prayers are with the family and the entire Moi clan," Raila said.