Politics

Team effort, not Ruto, got me 2007 Rift votes, Raila says

Team effort, not Ruto, got me 2007 Rift votes, Raila says

ODM leader Raila Odinga.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

ODM leader Raila Odinga has dismissed Deputy President William Ruto’s assertion that he helped him secure the Rift Valley vote in the 2007 elections, even as he defended Kenyans with offshore accounts on the back of the Pandora disclosures on President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Mr Odinga rejected the narrative by the DP that he played a key role in ensuring that Rift Valley residents voted for him in 2007.

"In 2007, the person who was in the frontline in Rift Valley was Kipkalia Kones and he is the one who introduced me in the region. Ruto also wanted to be president then and we went through nomination and after that, he decided to be on our side. Kones marshalled Kipsigis in Kericho and Bomet, Ruto was in charge of Uasin Gishu, Nandi we had Henry Kosgey and Sally Kosgei. Baringo we had Musa Sirma and that is how we brought people together," Mr Odinga said.

"I cannot say that I no longer get votes in Rift Valley. I got some votes, both in 2013 and 2017.  My agenda for the Kalenjin nation has never changed. I still have friends despite others dumping me. I am back so that we can soldier on together," he added.

According to Mr Odinga, there is no problem if any Kenyan has an account abroad, as long as it is not meant to mint public money. He said sources of funds in foreign countries need to be made public.

"I don’t think there is a problem to own an account in a foreign country unless it is for corruption. It should be known why you opened it abroad, when, for what reason and money which is there came from where (sic). I am confident that the truth will be known," he said.

"Uhuru has already lauded the initiative and he has promised to explain more about it when he comes back from his foreign trip," he added.

Mr Odinga urged those with offshore accounts to make theirs also public instead of highly guarding them.

“I encourage any Kenyan who has such deals to come out. Unfortunately, some are being protected by our courts and they have money abroad. I understand the temptations of being in a government, businesspeople approach with some goodies that if you do certain things, your money will be stashed outside the country and that is what I refused,” he said, adding that he has no offshore account.

The Pandora Papers revealed that President Kenyatta’s family has billions of shillings worth of properties and liquid assets stashed abroad.

President Kenyatta, in a statement released Monday, did not deny ownership of the offshore accounts but said the “Pandora Papers and subsequent follow-up audits will lift the veil of secrecy and darkness for those who cannot explain their assets or wealth.”

The exposé containing 12 million files leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) did not accuse the first family of involvement in any illegalities, but the President’s political opponents still argue the colossal amount should be repatriated and invested locally to create employment for thousands of jobless youths.

Yesterday, Mr Odinga, in an interview with Kalenjin radio stations, rejected claims that the opposition is dead because of his handshake with President Kenyatta.

Mr Odinga disclosed that he continues to keep the government on its toes by informing the Head of State directly, unlike before when he used to do it in press conferences.

“I am not in Jubilee government. I am not earning any cent from this government. I have no Cabinet, those who are there were proposed by the President and his deputy. We are in opposition and what people are not understanding is the difference between the current Constitution and the previous one," he said.

He lamented that the push and pull between the Executive and the Judiciary was derailing a lot of government programmes due to incessant protracted court battles.

“Corruption is the biggest enemy of our country. It interferes with development. Globally, there is no country which is corruption free, but the difference is the action taken to deal with culprits. When no action is taken, that is what makes graft a norm and that is why Mwai Kibaki and I had banned harambee," said Mr Odinga.

He added that the time had come for the country to embrace women leaders to achieve aspirations of the country's founding fathers.

“The big mistake we have done is to leave women behind. Women have to be in the frontline when it comes to the development of the country,” he said.

Mr Odinga also said he views Dr Ruto as a possible main challenger in the race for the presidency, and would, therefore, not work with him.

"I am ready to work with everyone in our country.  The other time, you had given me William Samuel arap Ruto, we worked with him in the Grand Coalition Government in the Ministry of Agriculture which was the biggest ministry on my side then,” he said.

“He left and joined the other camp, therefore, in case you give me another person, I will work with him because I am the same Arap Mibei (man from the lake who welcomes everyone)," Mr Odinga said.

He went ahead: "Ruto is in the competition alone on the other side and it is his democratic right, and if you give me another person, yes.”

The DP had in April also dismissed the possibility of forming an alliance with the ODM chief ahead of the 2022 General Election.