Raila Odinga, Kenya’s veteran politician is making a fifth stab at the presidency in Kenya’s general elections due on Tuesday, August 9th. He has always been the anti-establishment candidate but this time, he will be enjoying the support of his one-time rival Uhuru Kenyatta in what is seen as his best chance yet.
Raila Odinga now 77, has dominated Kenya’s politics for close to 50 years. His early years in politics were spent in detention due to his resistance against President Daniel Arap Moi’s dictatorship.
“ Raila Odinga is somebody who has spent all his life trying to make Kenya democratic, he spent nine years in jail during Moi days, he has promised to change Kenya all his life but never gotten an opportunity,” explains Prof. Gitile Naituli a political analyst based in Kenya.
Not one to give up, he spent the 90s pushing for reforms and a new constitution for Kenya – a milestone that he helped Kenya achieve in 2010 alongside the then president Mwai Kibaki.
He joined parliament in 1992 and then vied for president in 1997, 2007, 2013 and 2017, although he has never been successful in his presidential bid, he insists he has been cheated of his victory three times. He told the SABC in July this year, that the people still want him on the ballot.
“The people want me to run and also because they feel that injustice has been done to me and also what I represent they believe that I represent change,“ said Odinga.
Odinga, a charismatic politician has the ability to draw crowds and is probably the only Kenyan politician with a constant voting bloc of supporters. His way of doing politics however seen as pushy and a rabble-rouser, probably what the East African nation needs according to prof. Naituli.
“We need a bully, I can tell you to move this country we need a bully,” adds Naituli
Some believe age has mellowed the once vibrant leader. Others are wary that his decision to agree to a peace pact with Uhuru Kenyatta may work against him.
“I am my own, I am not running against President Kenyatta, Kenyatta is outgoing but the candidate I am vying against because I have said that he represents the past, I have said that he represents the past,” concludes Odinga.
Odinga is still pushing his reform agenda. Will he be 5th time lucky? His date with destiny is on Tuesday, August 9th.
A look at Raila Odinga’s past presidential runs: