DP Ruto allies welcome Raila’s new AU role
Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development Sunday welcomed the appointment of Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga as the AU High Representative for Infrastructure Development.
African Union Commission chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat on Saturday picked Mr Odinga for the position as part of a campaign to speed up integration in the continent through infrastructure development.
In a statement, Ms Juma said the appointment confirms President Uhuru Kenyatta’s commitment to integration in Africa.
“The appointment comes at an opportune moment when countries are ratifying the Continental Free Trade Area treaty that aims at bolstering…trade, in a bid to achieve Africa’s vision 2063,” the minister said.
The statement added that Ms Juma’s ministry would give Mr Odinga the necessary support “in order to guarantee utmost success during his tenure of service to the continent”.
Igad executive secretary Mahboub Maalim said infrastructure development is a key driver of progress and sustained economic progress.
He thanked the AU Commission “for the wisdom in establishing the office, and in choosing Mr Odinga its first occupant”.
“I acknowledge his wise leadership, vast experience, knowledge and skills as Kenya’s prime minister,” Mr Maalim said.
The Igad chief said the creation of the office and Mr Odinga’s appointment would go a long way in mobilising the collective efforts towards the implementation of the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa, a key pillar of the AU Agenda 2063.
The 2016 Africa Regional Integration Index report identified Igad as the highest performing economic community bloc in infrastructure and Mr Maalim said the grouping is ready to support the high representative fulfil his mandate.
“Igad will remain fully engaged and committed to the realisation of the continent’s massive infrastructure and development needs,” Mr Maalim said.
Meanwhile, leaders allied to Deputy President William Ruto urged Mr Odinga to quit politics and focus on his new job.
They said the time for the opposition leader to retire from politics has come “and he should deliver on his mandate to ensure he lobbies for more resources to improve roads in Kenya”.
Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro and Ford Kenya deputy party leader Boni Khalwale told Mr Odinga to give the Jubilee administration time to implement the Big Four Agenda and that he should stop the referendum campaigns.
During a church service and funds drive at UPEC Annex in Kesses Constituency, Uasin Gishu County Sunday, the leaders said the ODM boss should leave politics to the “young leaders like Ruto” when President Uhuru Kenyatta’s term comes to an end.
“Raila was in politics with the likes of former presidents Daniel arap Moi and Mwai Kibaki, leaders like Kenneth Matiba, Martin Shikuku and Kijana Wamalwa. He should leave politics to others,” Dr Khalwale said.
“If Mr Odinga uses his new appointment properly, Kenya will get funding form the African Development Bank to improve her roads.”
Mr Nyoro said there is need for Mr Odinga to realise that his image is beyond Kenya in his new role “and he should focus on matters affecting the continent”.
Kimilili MP Didimus Barasa said Mr Odinga’s position does not leave room for politics.
“Mr Odinga must retire from politics now that he is an envoy of the African Union. The new appointment does not require politics anyway,” the Kimilili lawmaker said.
Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichungwa said President Kenyatta and his deputy “will continue transforming lives of Kenyans”.
The lawmaker added that the two leaders enjoy political goodwill.
He said the March 9 handshake between Mr Kenyatta and the opposition leader had landed the latter “a good job”.
“Now that Mr Odinga has been given a very big job as an AU envoy, we are confident that the President and his deputy will continue working together in cementing a legacy by implementing the Big Four Agenda,” Mr Ichungwa said.
The leaders at the funds drive said the campaign for constitutional review is dead.
Kilifi North MP Owen Baya said the campaign was meant to create a position in the government for Mr Odinga.
“We thank the President for ensuring that Mr Odinga gets a job. That means the campaign to change the Constitution is over. Mr Odinga wanted to create an executive prime minister post for himself as a way of blocking Mr Ruto from taking over from the President in 2022,” Mr Baya said.
“The only referendum we can support is the one that will reduce the huge public wage bill and give people at the Coast their land.”
South Mugirango MP Sylvanus Osoro said Mr Odinga should quit politics “because his new job will make him busy”.