Saturday, July 30, 2011



By Tom Sawyer Bright

Las Vegas, Nevada

July 4, 2011

Two senior politicians in Uganda and Kenya this week made explosive political statements a thousand miles apart. As Kizza Besigye was announcing that he would not be a presidential candidate in Uganda in 2016, Kenya’s minister for information, Joseph Poghisio was telling a rally in Mombasa that Prime Raila Odinga should retire with Mwai Kibaki to allow Poghisio and his political allies decide who should be Kenya’s next president. In other words, even after the passing of the new constitution , which the minister and his friends vehemently opposed , the good minister still thinks Kenya can be ruled by a handpicked president by a cartel of opportunistic politicians.

Whereas Besigye’s announcement was received with positive response from a number of Ugandans who described it as timely, democratic and statesmanlike after trying his hand three times without winning the elections, Poghisio’s statement was roundly condemned by most Kenyans who saw it as retrogressive and in bad taste.

For Poghisio to imply that Raila should go home with Kibaki because the two were responsible for the 2007-2008 chaos was highly irresponsible. For starters, Poghisio should remember that his new masters, William Ruto and Uhuru Kenyatta are candidates for The Hague over the same chaos he is accusing Kibaki and Raila of. More importantly, if Poghisio is that clean and principled, how come he was one of the first people as ODMK chairman to lobby to be appointed to the Kibaki government if indeed Kibaki was one of the masterminds of the deaths of so many Kenyans?

A few months ago, Poghisio was one of the youth wingers commandeered by William Ruto to go to The Hague as cheer leaders during the mention of the Ocampo Six cases. At that time, the song was that Raila Odinga had masterminded the prosecution of William Ruto and Uhuru Kenyatta so that he could easily sail through the 2012 elections. What has changed since then to make Poghisio plead with Raila to get out of the race so that Poghisio’s masters can win the election? Is Poghisio beginning to doubt the popularity of his pay masters should Raila’s name be on the ballot box?

Just in case Poghisio has forgotten, President Kibaki is not going home because he killed 1300 Kenyans in 2008. Kibaki is not a candidate for The Hague. The President is bound by the constitution to retire after two consecutive terms in the office, which terms come to an end in 2012.

Raila Odinga has never been President of the Republic of Kenya and therefore cannot be expected to retire just because his rival and partner in the coalition is retiring. He has the right to run for the same office and win or lose. That choice will be made by Kenyans of all tribes and walks of life. That choice cannot be entrusted to Poghisio and his clique.

Poghisio needs reminding that when Raila Odinga spent nine years in detention camps under the Moi regime; his current masters were errand boys for Moi’s notorious repressive regime. He should remember that his current bed fellows William Ruto, Cyrus Jirongo and Kalonzo Musyoka were the President’s point men who saw no evil under the one party system. To them, KANU was baba na mama that gave and took individual lives at will.

Yes, Kenyans would love to forget the past and let Moi and his clique alone. However, as the likes of Joseph Poghisio keep mouthing disgusting political statements, Kenyans will have no choice but to remind them of their ugly and shameful past.

The new constitution is very clear on how the president of Kenya will be elected in the future. The field is wide open for any Kenyan above 18 years, educated and with a tract record of achievement, integrity and ethical standards to run for the highest office in the land. The only persons barred from seeking such his office will be the mentally unstable, criminals and bankrupt individuals. So far, the records show that Raila Odinga is mentally stable, has no criminal records and is yet to be declared bankrupt.

At 68 in 2012, Raila will be younger than both Jomo Kenyatta and Mwai Kibaki when they assumed that office. Whereas Jomo Kenyatta took office at the advanced age of 74, he went ahead to rule Kenya for 15 years making him die in office at the age of 89. Kibaki on the other hand will retire in 2012 at the age of 80 while Moi assumed office at 54 and spent 24 years ruling Kenya. He retired at 78.

What the likes of Poghisio and company must be prepared for is to put up with presidency of Raila Odinga for the next ten years until 2022 because that is what Kenyans want. No amount of disparaging, maligning and screaming against Raila Odinga will change the situation and certainly not the ranting of Joseph Poghisio will make Kenyans change their minds.

Tom Sawyer Bright is a tourist and a freelance writer