Odinga, Kenya PM asks Africa to pressure Mugabe

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Flag of Kenya

Kenya’s Prime Minister Raila Odinga has urged Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to show leadership and work with the opposition to solve the country’s post-election political crisis, using the Kenyan model.

Odinga, who claims to have won the 27 December presidential poll in Kenya, praised President Mwai Kibaki for showing statesmanship and agreeing to negotiate with the opposition on a power-sharing agreement soon after the disputed presidential results were announced.

The Kenyan Premier criticised African leaders for backpedaling on a fairly democratic culture inherited from the colonialists to create imperial presidencies which later entrenched dictatorship by eliminating opposition to the government.

“The African leaders convinced their citizens the gigantic task of nation building required unity and therefore the opposition is something of a luxury that Africa can ill-afford,” he said in a speech at his victory dinner, attended by senior government officials.

He said the multi-party system was “slowly but surely taken to the museum.

“Thereafter spirit of coercion, blackmail, corruption and intimidation of the opposition took effect across most states, giving room for military dictatorship to become the order of the day.

“After some years, it was one country, one people, one people one state, one state one party, one party one leader, that leader, so and so. The leader and the state became one thing that is where the imperial presidency came from.”

Odinga’s analogy was similar to the political situation in Kenya for several years with President Daniel Moi at the helm for 24 years.

The same crisis has bedeviled the East African state, derailing efforts to reduce the presidency’s powers through a new constitution, which he helped to defeat in 2005 for advocating a strong presidency.

Odinga, who had earlier asked the African Union (AU) to consider honouring former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan as the African Statesman of all time, said he was disappointed that most leaders in Africa had failed to talk about Zimbabwe.

“We are still unable to speak when democracy is under siege, where a general election is held and nobody wants to speak about it, where two and a half weeks after an election is held, still there is no result and nobody wants to speak about it,” he said.

He regretted the presidency emasculated all other institutions.

“The leader was the teacher number one, doctor professor number one. “That was the genesis of the second liberation of Africa. That is what has caused problems in Africa,” he emphasised.

He also criticized current African leaders for failing to actively pressurise for the immediate release of the 29 March presidential poll results in Zimbabwe.

“We have walked a long journey, but many African countries walked this path before,” Odinga told guests after he took the oath of office.

He said many African countries inherited a fairly democratic constitutional order at independence, with clear separation of powers between the judiciary, the executive and the legislature but over the years, that order changed.

African leaders, he said, slowly killed democracy by advancing the argument that Africa had its own system of resolving conflicts and that the traditional system of resolving conflicts was by consensus and that the European system of justice was alien to Africa.

“Where African leaders can meet and not speak about it, that is not an Africa that Raila Odinga wants to live in. We have to say what we mean and mean what we say.”

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