Kenya: One on One With ODM Leader Raila Odinga

9 December 2019

The Nation sat down with Opposition leader Raila Odinga over a myriad of political issues in the country, and his take on President Uhuru Kenyatta, his deputy William Ruto and the content of ANC leaders Musalia Mudavadi's book.

What is your take on ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi's book which speaks a lot about you?

I really don't want to discuss Mudavadi's book mostly because he suffers from serious memory lapses from the claims he is making.

I mean when you speak candidly to the other Nasa principals over the swearing-in ceremony, they will give you the true picture and not what Musalia is saying.

To me he suffers from memory lapses and has stuck to the gospel according to "St Musalia Mudavadi".

Do you have a personal grudge against Deputy President William Ruto?

I have never had any personal grudge against Dr Ruto. He served under me when I was the premier and we enjoyed a cordial working relationship.

Yes, we have disagreed on issues but they have either been work-related or political. It has never been personal.

And we cannot also say we have a professional grudge because we share different professional backgrounds outside politics.

What is your take on the arrest of Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko and where that leaves the county politics?

I don't want to comment on Mr Sonko's issue because it is before the courts and that would amount to sub judice.

He is entitled to a fair trial. However, I have reservations in the manner in which he was arrested.

It was very humiliating to see him being arrested in such a fashion. The authorities could have an explanation on why they did it that way but it was not pleasing.

Given the handshake with President Uhuru Kenyatta, do you still believe that you are the leader of opposition in the country?

Yes, I do. I mean, I am the leader, outside of Parliament, of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), which is the biggest opposition party.

In Parliament, we have our minority leaders pushing our agenda. I'll always speak my mind about issues affecting Kenyans, which the government isn't pushing for, irrespective of the handshake.

Has your relationship with President Kenyatta improved since the handshake?

We have always been friends, mostly because of the historical ties our families have.

On a personal level, we have never had differences. Politically, we might have held differing opinions.

But I also need to make it clear that the handshake isn't just about the love and friendship between President Kenyatta and I, but about our shared vision for the prosperity of this nation.

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