Thursday, July 24, 2008



July 24, 2008
By David Ohito
The Standard

Prime Minister Raila Odinga has said President Kibaki was not "a Robert Mugabe" as Britain opened its purse strings for the two leaders, whose bitter feud over the outcome of last year’s presidential elections almost tore the country apart.

The PM had first sought to show just how different Zimbabwe and Kenya were, before he described the warm working relationship with his political rival-turned-buddy.

"Mwai Kibaki is not Robert Mugabe," Raila told an audience that included Lord David Steel at a packed Royal Institute of International Affairs in London.

In his lecture, ‘Leadership and Democracy in Africa’, Raila said: "Mugabe’s ‘victory’ was accepted by the world’s longest serving President Omar Bongo of Gabon, with a strange logic. ‘He was elected, he took an oath, and he is with us, so he is President’."

"But the situation in Zimbabwe is not the same as in Kenya. Our election itself was well conducted — even if the count was not. The run-off election in Zimbabwe was universally condemned as a sham and the results of the first poll were never published except being told that Mugabe lost," Raila said.

Peace building

On Wednesday, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, in a statement after meeting Raila and other members of the Kenyan delegation, marvelled at how quickly the country had regained its stride.

"Only six months ago, Kenya stood on the brink of civil war. Kenya’s friends watched in fear as ethnic violence, displacement and insecurity gripped the country," Brown said as he announced a £2 million (Sh268m) UK support for peace building.

"Kenya stepped away from the brink. Partly due to the leadership of President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga; partly due to the mediation efforts of Kofi Annan; and partly due to strong international support for reconciliation. But most of all because the Kenyan people turned their backs on violence and chose to work together," Brown said.

He added: "I want to say today, as I did six months ago, that Britain will stand by Kenya as it opens a new chapter in its history. We welcome the Government’s commitment to power sharing. We welcome the strenuous efforts made by all sides to live up to the expectations of the Kenyan people."

The UK peace building financial pledge comes hot on the heels of another Sh5.8 billion pledged by the US Government in June, which Raila was promised when he led a Government delegation to America.

The pledge to fund reconstruction efforts got the approval of Congress and key US financiers.

Speaking to journalists earlier at a Downing Street Press conference with Raila, Brown said the Kenyan people had "chosen to work together" and the UK would play its part in helping the country rebuild.

On his part Raila said: "We welcome the commitment to power sharing. We welcome the strenuous efforts made by all sides to live up to the expectations of the Kenyan people and we will fulfil our promise to help with the rebuilding."

UK and Kenya will also work together on a number of key issues, Brown said. They include combating drug trafficking, establishing a trade agreement in the Doha round of negotiations taking place this week in Geneva and building an East Africa stand-by brigade to help boost stability in the region.

Brown also said the UK and Kenya would work to "uphold democracy" in Africa and called for an end to violence against MDC supporters in Zimbabwe.

Raila said Zimbabweans had been "cheated of their will" in recent elections and that they deserved "better treatment".


Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and his entourage were expected to link up with Raila in London.

Raila was accompanied by his wife, Ida, Cabinet Ministers John Michuki (Finance and Environment), Moses Wetangula (Foreign Affairs), Kiraitu Murungi (Energy), Mutula Kilonzo (Nairobi Metropolitan), Najib Balala (Tourism) and Mohamed Elmi (Northern Kenya and Arid Lands).

Speaking on his first trip as PM to the UK, where he wooed British investors and tourists, Raila said: "I commend President Kibaki for accepting the National Accord. The tragic events Kenya has recently lived through made us wiser as political leaders."

Working in good faith

The PM said with the coalition agreement, leaders were working together to set a new path.

He said they worked in good faith through constant consultation and willingness to compromise.

"President Kibaki and I are determined to provide firm leadership and build democratic institutions to enshrine justice, equity and accountability.

"We will break with the corrupt past and create a new inclusive Kenya. We will lay the foundation of future growth through infrastructural development and create opportunities for long-term employment."

Speaking at Chatham House in London – the Palace of Westminster, the citadel of parliamentary democracy, Raila said: "I hope my visit will bring confidence to British investors and tourists on Kenya. Our nation is back on its feet."