Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Elections 2013: Oburu and Ruth Odinga Step Down

 By Salim Lone

Addressing the media last night as he stepped out from the Siaya governor’s race, Dr. Oburu Oginga recounted last night how he had won his Bondo Parliamentary seat four times in a row. Seated next to ODM National Election Board chairman Franklin Bett, he said “none of those times was I related to a powerful government figure, nor was there any violence in those elections. Now all these accusations are flying around that Raila the Prime Minister rigged me in, and I used violence. Raila’s opponents within government organised the disruption and violence to undermine his standing, and mine. It seems it was a crime to be born Raila’s older brother now.” He was not challenging the ODM decision.

A few earlier, his sister Ruth Adhiambo Odinga had spoken to the media in a very moving statement, delivered in the most heart-felt and simple way, with tears brimming in her eyes. She said she had received no help whatsoever from her brother Raila in the campaign, and was stepping down from the Kisumu Governor’s race for the sake of peace in the country and Kisumu.

Yesterday the Odinga family was once again once showing how willing it is to keep the country’s interests centre-stage in their political struggle for change, a trait that dates to Jaramogi’s campaign to put Jomo Kenyatta first. A big chunk of the credit for Oburu’s and Ruth’s decisions of course goes to Raila, for whom this was an intensely personal and familial challenge. It’s not for the first time he’s made or influenced decisions like this.

In 2002 with Kibaki Tosha, Raila unified the country against dictatorship and energized the democratic movement’s first sweep to power after 40 years of struggle. He similarly unified Kenyans in 2005 (the first constitutional referendum), in 2008 by giving up his claim to the Presidency and accepted the junior role in the Coalition, and then of course in 2010, as the true author of our new constitution.

Such sacrifice and attributes – including the capacity to balance personal ambition and national interest - are the stuff of which great leaders are made.

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