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Odinga: Kenya’s Lion Roars

January 25, 2008 11:05 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Violence followed when Raila Odinga contested Kenyan President Kibaki’s election victory. Friends and foes agree the opposition leader should not be underestimated. 

30-Second Summary

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His supporters call him Agwambo, which means “mysterious” in the Dholuo language. The nickname remains a fitting one despite the intensity of recent media coverage.

Odinga, who met with Kibaki on Jan. 24 for the first time since December's disputed election, continues to claim Kibaki rigged the ballot.

"We denounce and categorically reject the unfortunate statement from Mr. Mwai Kibaki that he is the duly elected president of Kenya and that the current crisis can be resolved internally," said the secretary general of Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement.

But the two men weren’t always foes. In 2002, Odinga was head of the National Rainbow Coalition (Narc), which helped bring Kibaki to power.

Odinga’s political career is marked by such alliance-switching. Not long before Kibaki became president, Odinga even joined forces with former Kenyan president Daniel arap Moi, the man who had jailed him in the 1980s for allegedly plotting to overthrow his government.

Odinga belongs to the downtrodden Luo tribe. He was exposed to politics from an early age, as his father was Kenya’s first post-independence vice president. Odinga earned an engineering degree from an East German university.

Human Rights Watch have accused officials from his party of "helping to organize some of the ethnic violence," according to the BBC. Odinga denies involvement. His critics, however, say he is a dictator in the making who will remorselessly attack anyone who disagrees with him.

In a month of violence, more than 650 people have been killed and over 250,000 displaced from their homes.

Headline Links: Rivals meet to discuss solution

Background: The Kenyan crisis

Biography: Raila Odinga

Opinion & Analysis: ‘The Best President Kenya Will Never Have’

Reference: Raila Odinga's Web site

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