Mixed reactions over bid to have Raila in Parliament


NAIROBI, KENYA: Nyanza leaders are making a bid to have former Prime Minister Raila Odinga to go back to Parliament despite the premier insistence that he is not interested.

In a meeting held in Kisumu, the leaders implored Raila to go back to Parliament since his vibrancy and leadership is needed within the House.

However, the leaders were divided over the issue, as some of them said if the bid does not succeed it would embarrass the premier.

Those present consisted of Raila, 18 members of the National Assembly, four governors, two senators, 40 professionals, 52 clergymen drawn from different parts of Luo Nyanza and Luo Council of Elders.

The elders and professionals advocated for Raila to go back to Parliament, arguing he would play a greater role in advancement of good governance and consolidation of Kenya’s democratic gains.

This was in consequence of several offers by some elected leaders to step down for him willingly so that he could have a chance to lead the coalition from either of the assemblies.

There was contention in the meeting with many youthful leaders clashing with elders over Raila’s future if he is to get back to Parliament or stay outside.

Siaya Senator James Orengo said the issue was ‘sensitive’ and needed much thought since it could leave Raila embarrassed.

Mr Orengo said the case may turn to be like former Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka’s where no elected leader is willing to step aside for him to make a comeback.

“There are some leaders that have been approached and have declined, that is why am saying this issue is very serious,” said Orengo.

Muhoroni Member of National Assembly Onyango Koyoo said the former PM was too senior to go back to Parliament.

“Some people are coming up with wild ideas. This is not right,” said Koyoo, of Peoples Democratic, party, an affiliate of Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD).

Koyoo’s Kasipul counterpart Oyugi Magwanga said the decision rests with the former premier.

“He is not for the idea. It is demeaning to his stature, although there are number of leaders willing to relinquish their seats for him,” said Mr Magwanga.

Kisumu East legislator Shabeer Shakeel said it would be an embarrassment to have Raila joins them in Parliament.

Luo Council of elders Willy Otondi said there will be consultations among top Luo leaders comprising of clergy, council of elders and politicians to decide whether Raila will go back to Parliament or not.

Some of the leaders present said Raila should stay out of Parliament but lead from outside by pushing for economic development in the region.

“Raila was on the forefront looking for investors outside to do business with Kenya, that is what he should continue doing so that our region is developed,” said the leader.

A youth leader in Kisumu Augustine Abuya stood up and vehemently opposed the idea being fronted by the leaders and told Raila not to heed such calls.

Abuya added that the former PM should continue with his protection of devolved government outside Parliament as he has been doing.

The meeting was held at Ukweli Pastoral Centre, about ten kilometres from Kisumu town. The venue was along Kisumu-Kakamega road.

The function started at around 10am, after the arrival of Raila, and ended at a minute past 4pm. It was convened by Luo Council of Elders and clergy led by Catholic Archbishop Zacheaus Okoth.

Fred Outa, who was the master of ceremony, told The Standard on Sunday a consultative committee of professionals and clergy would be formed to persuade the former premier to join Parliament.

The committee will be formed in due course to prevail upon Raila to reconsider his position not to join Parliament,” said Outa.


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