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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Revealed: Raila's real MoU with Muslims

A group of Muslims Tuesday made public their Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with ODM presidential candidate Raila Odinga and denied that it was meant to suppress other religions.

They also explained why they chose to support Mr Odinga instead of President Kibaki, who is defending his seat on a PNU ticket, and ODM Kenya flag bearer Kalonzo Musyoka.

The National Muslim Leaders Forum (Namlef), which signed the pact on behalf of fellow Muslims, said they had been motivated by the need to protect the interests of members of the religious community who have suffered oppression under successive governments since independence in 1963.

And Mr Odinga reiterated that ODM’s pact with Muslims “was very innocent”, contrary to the allegations in some quarters, especially by his political rivals. Mr Odinga also stated that this was not the first time that such an agreement had been signed with members of the Muslim community.

Since early this month, a purported MoU has been circulating on the Internet, which Mr Odinga and Muslim leaders dismissed as a fake, with the ODM candidate promising that the real pact would be made “public at an appropriate time”. Yesterday, Mr Odinga said: “Even the current Head of State, President Kibaki, did so in the run-up to the 2002 General Election at Nyali Beach Hotel in the presence of Mr Michael Wamalwa (who became the Vice-President) and Mr Kalonzo Musyoka (now the ODM-K presidential candidate). I, therefore, wonder why people are up in arms.”

Namlef chairman Sheikh Abdullahi Abdi said: “The objective was to safeguard the interests of a section of the Kenyan community (Muslims) that has undergone atrocities over the last 44 years.

“Fears that Muslims want to introduce Sharia law and make Islam the supreme religion in this country are false and only meant to generate hostility between us and our Christian and Hindu brothers. Islam does not suppress other religions.”

Namlef, the national umbrella platform of leaders of Muslim organisations, called the press conference at its offices in Hurlingham, Nairobi, to clear the air over the controversy.

When Mr Odinga disclosed in public that he had signed an MoU with Muslims, this sparked off national debate with some Christian leaders denouncing it.

The issue was also seized by PNU leaders, who denounced the pact as allegedly meant to create religious animosity.

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