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Martha Karua, Kajwang, Oparanya to accompany Raila Odinga to US

Martha Karua, Kajwang, Oparanya to accompany Raila Odinga to US
Martha Karua, Kajwang, Oparanya to accompany Raila Odinga to US

Azimio La Umoja One Kenya presidential hopeful Raila Odinga will on Friday jet out of the country for a week-long visit to the United States.

The tour is coming just a month after the ODM leader toured the United Kingdom where he had media interviews, met senior UK government officials and Kenyans living in the UK as he expanded his international networks.

It is believed that Mr Odinga will use the US tour to explain to the international community his candidacy and agenda for the country

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Mr Odinga will leave the country on April 22 and will jet back on April 29, according to an itinerary shared with the Nation by a source from the ODM leader’s campaign secretariat.

He will start his tour in Washington DC and then head to San Francisco in the west coast.

The beginning of Odinga’s US trip coincides with the last day of party primaries.

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In Washington DC, the ODM chief is expected to meet Black Congressional Caucus and other US leaders.

Mr Odinga will be accompanied by governors Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega), James Ongwae (Kisii), Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua, former Aldai MP Sally Kosgey, Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang and Kathiani MP Robert Mbui.

The inclusion of Dr Kosgey, a former powerful Head of Civil Service in President Daniel Moi’s government, Ms Karua as well as key allies of the ODM party is an indicator of the importance Mr Odinga has placed on the trip.

Mr Odinga’s spokesperson Dennis Onyango told the Nation that the full itinerary will be disclosed at the right time noting that the programme is still being developed.

Enhancing global image

Mr Odinga held talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi in February, in what was seen as enhancing his global image.

In late February, Deputy President William Ruto was also in the US, where held talks with Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts.

He also spoke at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, and at the University of Arizona’s Washington Entrepreneurship Hub.

The two archrivals’ foreign trips indicate the role foreign policy will play in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s succession.

The presidential hopefuls have been trying to outsmart each other in attracting the attention of the international community.

Transition election

Experts on international relations say that since it is a transition election, it is important for State House contenders to sell themselves to the international community.

Dr Hassan Khannenje, director of the HORN International Institute for Strategic Studies in Nairobi, argued that the hive of activity between presidential aspirants and diplomatic corps is meant to build confidence and image.

“Interaction with the international community is important in building confidence that those countries’ investments in Kenya are going to remain safe and secure and when the international community does not have confidence in a candidate it might be challenging once they assume power in terms of working relationships,” Dr Khannenje said.

He added: “It is a critical aspect to try and reach out to foreigners by the fact that Kenya is not an island and disconnected from the international community.”

Dr Khannenje said candidates interested in succeeding President Kenyatta need to assure foreign countries that their administration would continue with the relations and that their investments locally are safe.

Interest in Kenya

Prof Masibo Lumala of Moi University, a communication and international relations expert, said that because superpowers have a lot of interest in Kenya, their actions are likely to influence the direction the election will take and the presidential candidates must work with them closely.

“The superpowers and developed nations have a lot of interests in Kenya and, therefore, Kenya’s election is an issue to them,” Prof Lumala explained.

“They may say that Kenya is an independent country and they should not interfere in its affairs but they will still have a say in who is likely to ascend to power because they have dossiers on some of these candidates.”

Campaign funding

United States International University’s (USIU) Prof Macharia Munene argued that presidential hopefuls are reaching out to foreign communities for campaign funding while those countries are out to protect their interests locally.

“Foreign countries have serious interests in Kenya and one way of securing those interests is to know the decision-makers. Elected officials are critical,” he said.

“On their part, candidates want funding and other forms of support that foreigners can provide. If the foreign policy of a candidate can attract investments that voters can see, then it will have an impact.”

By Onyango K’Onyango


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Martha Karua, Kajwang, Oparanya to accompany Raila Odinga to US

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