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Kibaki, Odinga have long history; now must work together to ensure Kenya's future

Kibaki, Odinga have long history; now must work together to ensure Kenya's future

The two men who agreed Thursday to join in a coalition government to end Kenya's political crisis have a long history of friendship and betrayal. Raila Odinga's support was key to getting President Mwai Kibaki elected in 2002, But Kibaki later reneged on a promised power-sharing government with Odinga.
A look at the two men now challenged to run Kenya's government together:
Odinga, 63, cast himself as a champion of the poor in the run-up to December elections and many of those who took the streets after the vote said they had been counting on his Orange Democratic Movement party to bring prosperity to impoverished regions and ethnic groups.
During his 15 years as a member of parliament, Odinga's main constituency has been Nairobi's Kibera slum, where some 700,000 people live in poverty. But he has been accused of failing to do enough to help them during his tenure.
Odinga himself is a millionaire _ he owns a factory that makes gas cylinders _ from an established political family.
His father, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, was Kenya's first vice president under the country's founding president and independence hero, Jomo Kenyatta. The elder Odinga, a socialist, resigned in 1966 because of ideological differences with Kenyatta.
Raila Odinga was born in far western Kenya, but spent much of his adolescence in Germany _ attending high school there and earning a masters in mechanical engineering. He returned to Kenya in 1970 to teach at the University of Nairobi, and joined the opposition against then-President Daniel arap Moi.
He was arrested by Moi's administration in 1982. Odinga spent the next nine years without charge as a political prisoner.
Odinga made his first bid for the presidency in 1997 against Moi. He came in third in that race, behind Kibaki. In 2002, he joined with other opposition leaders to back Kibaki under the banner of the National Rainbow Coalition _ a rare political cooperation between tribes that historically voted along ethnic lines.
Odinga is a member of the Luo tribe, one of Kenya's largest after Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe.
Though he didn't get the power-sharing setup he wanted out of Kibaki's 2002 win, Odinga served as a Cabinet minister for three years before he was booted out in December 2005. He was among seven Cabinet members who rallied to defeat a draft constitution that Kibaki backed.
In his campaign against Kibaki, Odinga charged that the president had deserted reform, instead using his power to stack the administration with Kikuyu cronies.
Odinga has a reputation for flamboyancy, using soccer metaphors and local parables to rally crowds as he campaigned across the country and driving a Hummer to the last session of Parliament. He also drove the vehicle through the Kibera slum, drawing adoring crowds.
He and his wife Ida Betty Odinga have four children.
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The 76-year-old Kibaki's landslide 2002 election victory was a landmark for the country _ the first time an opposition candidate had unseated the party that had controlled Kenya since its 1963 independence from Britain.
He had made previous runs at the presidency, in 1992 and 1997, but those were thwarted as the vote split among a number of opposition parties. His 2002 success was widely attributed to the backing of a cross-tribal coalition formed with Odinga.
Kibaki has been praised for turning the country into an East African economic powerhouse with an average growth rate of 5 percent since taking office. But many say he has done too little to root out graft or to tackle tribalism and poverty.
Kibaki served as finance minister in 1969-1982 under Jomo Kenyatta, the country's first president, and then under Moi. He was Moi's vice president from 1978 until the president removed him in 1988.
Kibaki formed his own party three years later. Neither Kibaki nor Moi talked openly about the split, but observers said Moi questioned Kibaki's loyalty.
A member of Kenya's largest tribe, the Kikuyu, Kibaki grew up in central Kenya and excelled at school. He was admitted to Makerere University College in Kampala, Uganda in 1951, at the time the only institution of higher learning in British East Africa. One of the school's top students, he won a scholarship in 1955 to study in Britain and chose the London School of Economics.
Like many other Kikuyus in the 1950s, Kibaki took an oath of the secret group Mau Mau that fought the British colonial administration to get Kikuyu land back. His brother died in battle as the commander of a Mau Mau unit.
Kenya won its independence in 1963 and the Kenya African National Unity Party, led then by Kenyatta, came to power. Kibaki's publicity office says he and a group of friends crafted the original KANU constitution in the 1960s at Nairobi's African Corner Bar over bottles of beer.
He won his first public office in 1963, as representative for a provincial constituency.
When Kibaki ascended to the presidency in 2002, he was welcomed as the antithesis of Moi, accused of corruption and of plundering the state treasury.
Kibaki has since been accused not only of ignoring graft in his government, but of shielding criminals from past administrations. Moi endorsed Kibaki's re-election bid.
Kibaki is married to Lucy Muthoni and has four adult children.
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On the Web:
http://www.raila07.com
http://www.statehousekenya.go.ke


Updated : 2020-12-01 13:26 GMT+08:00