Monday, June 16, 2008



By Jerry Okungu
Hargeisa, Somaliland
June 16, 2008

A faction of Muslims that purportedly signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Raila Odinga’s ODM in 2007 is back in the limelight. This time round, it is not because they are being taken to task by PNU to disclose the contents of the secret accord. It is because they are now asking for their pound of flesh from Raila Odinga for the support they allegedly gave him in the December 2007 elections.

They are listing a series of promises that Raila allegedly pledged to fulfill that they now want delivered. One such demand is the release and repatriation of all Kenyans Muslims arrested in connection with terrorist activities in joint security operations between Kenyan and American anti- terrorist police. According to their letter, some of these victims were shipped out either to Addis Ababa, Djibouti or Guantanamo Bay in Cuba for further interrogation and possible prosecutions.

Like a Kenyan who cherishes the basic rights of every individual worldwide, I will be the last person to condemn this genuine demand. What worries me is the callous attitude of the people now demanding that because they voted for ODM, their demands must now be met as Muslims and not as Kenyans irrespective of the changed political circumstances!

First things first; when this group of Muslims signed the MoU with Raila Odinga, they were playing a political game like every interest group did or would have done. They were investing in a risky business without corresponding insurance cover. They were banking on the ODM outright win in order to benefit from political favors that normally go with such arrangements.

Let us face the truth here; the MoU with a faction of Muslims was not smooth-sailing and neither was it a unanimous all Muslim Affair. Several factions, especially imams opposed it and contradicted the arrangement publicly. This discordant note played itself at the elections when votes particularly in the North Eastern Province were split between the ODM, KANU and PNU. ODM had no landslide win in the province; thanks to the controversial MoU.

Be that as it may, the accord was based on ODM winning the elections outright to give Raila Odinga’s ODM the free hand to deal with the touchy Muslim – Somali issue. As it turned out, the election results plunged Kenyans in to unprecedented turmoil, some of whose effects are still being felt to this day.

As the youths in Rift Valley, Nyanza, Western and Nairobi battled with government forces over the rigged elections, North Eastern was as peaceful as Eastern and Central provinces. To date, thousands of Kenyan youths in these provinces are still languishing in Kenyan jails with at least two thousand more dead. This is the scenario that makes this Muslim demand repugnant when you consider that this is not the government that the ODM expected after a grueling campaign.

It may be necessary to remind this Muslim faction that the present government is a coalition government in which the jailers of the Muslim youths abroad are major partners. President Kibaki is still the president. Yusuf Hajji, a prominent Somali from North Eastern Province is now the PNU Minister for National Defense.

There are several Somali ministers and Permanent Secretaries including the Permanent secretary in the Prime Minister’s office who have benefited from this coalition government.

Of all the Provinces in Kenya, North Eastern has benefitted the most considering that Raila Odinga created a special Ministry of the North, appointed a minister and a permanent secretary from the same region to look after the development of the region. If this cannot be appreciated by a group of self-styled activists from the North then one wonders whether they are truly Kenyans living in modern Kenya.

Put another way; if one considers the number of votes North Eastern Province produces for any political party in any general election, they would not be commensurate with the number of appointments they now enjoy in this government compared to Central, Nyanza, Eastern and Central provinces. The entire Northern vote cannot even be equivalent to the Embakasi Constituency vote in Nairobi.

On the demand for the repatriation of jailed Kenyans abroad, our brothers must realize that we are dealing with a bigger evil and a bigger international problem. We are dealing with a super power that is used to getting away with murder. As a third world country that depends on the good will of Americans and the British for its survival, expecting a single member of a collation government to twist the arms of Americans is to live in fantasy world. If you doubt me, ask Pakistanis, Afghanistans, Iraqis and Palestinians who are ten times more militant and more sophisticated in terrorist activities than our Muslim militants in the Horn of Africa. You will realize that they haven’t gone very far with the Americans when it comes to dealing with terrorist issues, real or imagined.

When Americans decided to hang Saddam Hussein, it was regardless whether they found weapons of mass destruction or not! Saddam was hanged for being Anti- American and anti- Israeli in his swaggering utterances. Suspicion was good enough for the Americans to put a noose around his neck.

Where I come from, we say that “when a strong man breaks your mother’s pipe, you don’t challenge him to a fight; instead you blame your mother for her carelessness!”