Raila Odinga’s Political Profile

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Raila’s journey to this moment in history has not been a smooth ride.

Born in 1945 to the late Mzee Jaramogi Oginga and the late Mama Mary Juma Odinga, Raila  first made his mark in the public life in 1974 when he was appointed Group Standards Manager at the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) and was promoted to the position of Deputy Director in 1978, a position he held until 1982 when he started his political activism standing against the then dictatorial rule by KANU. 

That stand saw him charged with treason and serving two stints in detention for close to a decade. After his release in the 90’s, Raila fled the country to seek asylum in Norway over fear of further persecution in Kenya. 

He returned to Kenya and dove headlong into the liberation movement through the Forum for the Restoration of Democracy (FORD), which was then led by among others his father, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga and fellow political detainee Kenneth Matiba. 

When he came back from exile, he flung himself fully into politics, joining his father, a former vice president, and other liberals in pushing the Moi government to open up the democratic space in Kenya.  

Through the Forum of Restoration of Democracy (FORD), one of the first opposition parties in the 90’s, Raila began his run to this moment.

A run that has seen him serve as Member of Parliament for the then larger Langata constituency. He has also been a member of several political parties since, culminating into the Azimio outfit that he now seeks the presidency on.

Baba, Tinga, the enigma as has invariably been referred to, Raila Odinga has re-invented himself election cycle time and again.

From the fierce government critic in the Moi era, to the sympathetic in Kibaki time and again the competitor against the Jubilee government. 

Raila has run the whole gamut on the Kenyan opposition politics, challenging and writing history as the first successful politician to challenge presidential election results, bringing about the first presidential election nullification in Africa.

This wasn’t the first for Raila Odinga though, he, although with temporary close ties with KANU after the merger with the ruling party through his then party the National Development Party (NDP), was an integral part of the movement to bring an end to the one party rule in Kenya.

In 2002, he joined other like minded parties to campaign for Mwai Kibaki under the National Rainbow Alliance(NARC), a coalition that eventually kicked KANU out of government and ushered in a new dawn in Kenya’s political landscape.

With the same stroke of the pen that cemented his place in history, Raila also found himself on the opposite end of a political formation, whose members he had supported, etching a chapter in the country’s recent dark history with the disputed presidential election results of 2007 that led to the 2007/2008 post election violence. The aftermath was the nusu mkate government with Raila as the country’s Prime Minister. 

Right through the country’s push for constitutional change, he has been on the forefront, first leading the opposition in the country’s 2005 constitutional referendum, leading to his sacking from Mwai Kibaki’s government, to being its biggest supporter in 2010 when he led the support for the passing of the constitution.

Beyond the constitution changes, Raila has also written history by being part of the failed building bridges initiative, shaking hands with his once fiercest rivals, setting the stage for this year’s epic presidential contest

Raila’s stand now for the presidency comes with a twist, for the first time, he enjoys the support of the outgoing president, a former opponent, placing him in what analyst say is the best bet yet for the die hard, now softened critic, a man poised to know whether his lifelong dream of becoming Kenya’s President will be a reality in just a few weeks ahead.

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