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Can Kenya afford political prisoner Raila Odinga?


Tension mounts ahead of December 12 alternate inauguration event

By Nsikan Ikpe


Can Kenya afford to take in and incarcerate opposition leader, Raila Odinga as a political prisoner?

This is the question on the lips of many in the country and indeed all over Africa, ahead of the East African nation’s 64th Jamhuri (Independence) Day celebrations on Tuesday which the opposition NASA Alliance has also chosen as the date for its planned parallel inauguration of Raila Odinga as alternate president of the republic.

Already, tension is mounting in Kenya over whether the opposition NASA would actually proceed with its plans and how the government would respond in that eventuality.

Attempts by the United States and several other western diplomats to wade into the face off have already been dismissed by the opposition as one-sided, with Odinga questioning why foreigners who could not open their mouths and condemn widespread police brutality and killing of innocent Kenyans over the past months would now be talking on issues of constitutionality. ‘Which constitution?’ he angrily retorted.

The current face-off has its origin in the disputed elections and run-off that had resulted in the second term victory and inauguration of President Uhuru Kenyatta. NASA is contesting the entire process and insisting that electoral reforms be carried out preparatory to holding a fresh poll, a position that the ruling Jubilee coalition has since discountenanced.

Administration officials have presently being cautioning Raila and the opposition on the fact that they may be forced to invoke the nation’s treason laws even as the economist, top NASA strategist and member of the December 12 inauguration committee, David Ndii was briefly arrested last week. But can the big fish, Raila Odinga himself be arrested and prosecuted? And what would be the cost of such an action on a nation that political watchers say is indeed in a very fractured political situation presently? We wait.


NASA leader, Raila Odinga






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