Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Kibaki has failed Kenyans

ODM's Raila Odinga last week said President Kibaki had failed Kenyans and therefore did not deserve a second chance.

The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) presidential candidate, whom opinion polls indicate is Mr Kibaki's main challenger, (the latest Steadman poll, released on Friday 12th October, place him at 16 percentage points ahead of Kibaki) turned a public lecture on East African economics into a campaign platform as he spoke of the alleged "tokenisms" of the Kibaki tenure.

"It [reconstruction] cannot happen if we have men of yesterday running the country," he told a cheering crowd, featuring mostly Kenyan students studying at the Makerere University, Kampala.

Many in the largely supportive audience inside Makerere University's Main Building went wild whenever the Langata MP made witty jibes at the Kibaki presidency. He claimed that while his party was calling for "reconstruction", Mr Kibaki is instead focusing on "patching up".

Hundreds of students, some of them bedecked in oranges - the ODM symbol - had waited anxiously for Mr Odinga and his associate Najib Balala after the duo failed to make it on time.

The students carried the candidate's campaign posters that declared him "the people's president". But when the duo finally showed up over an hour later, the students almost turned the lecture into a popularity contest between Mr Odinga and Mr Balala, even heckling the moderator for failing to specially recognise the latter.

Mr Balala, who is the Mvita MP, eventually spoke before introducing Mr Odinga, whom he described as "the captain of the pentagon".

Mr Odinga began by regaling the audience with his memories of Uganda - including a story from 1958 when he visited Makerere University as 12-year-old on a mission to see where his father had gone to school.

In keeping with the theme of the lecture, "The place of economics in a new East Africa", Mr Odinga tackled colonialism, saying its biggest legacy was to divide East Africa.

"The people of East Africa were one," he said, describing himself as "an Afro-optimist" who believes in the ability of East Africans to single-handedly redeem the region.

Citing cases of corruption, ethnic discontent, crime and unemployment, Mr Odinga claimed his party had a clear plan "to answer all those problems".

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