By Daniel Luseno
BARELY two days after the Liberal Democratic Party was thrown out of government, the party’s chief whip Reuben Ndolo claimed that the government was plotting to arrest Raila Odinga, the former minister for Roads and Public Works.
The Makadara legislator made the revelation in Nairobi and said the planned arrest of Raila on “trumped up charges” would be meant to intimidate him and the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) of which he is a leading light.
The former minister is presently on a private visit to the United States, after having been in Uganda and Nigeria shortly before President Kibaki announced a new cabinet lineup on Wednesday.
Ndolo claimed the government was planning to confine the Lang'ata legislator behind bars and later prosecute him on the “trumped up charges.”
“The plot has been hatched to deter the propagation of the ODM through its planned political programmes across the country,” Ndolo told the Sunday Times on phone, but could not give details on the planned arrest.
The Lang’ata MP was among eight cabinet ministers axed by Kibaki following the resounding defeat handed on the government in the November 21 referendum. Sources said he was expected back in the country sometime next week.
Following the victory, ODM, an alliance of the LDP and Kanu stalwarts, called on the president to dissolve parliament and seek fresh mandate from the electorate. ODM leaders include former ministers Kalonzo Musyoka (Environment), Prof Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o (Planning), Najib Balala (Sports), Lina Kilimo (Immigration) and William ole Ntimama (Office of the President). Others are leader of the Official Opposition Uhuru Kenyatta, Kanu secretary general William Ruto and vice chairman Chris Okemo.
It took President Kibaki two weeks to reconstitute his government as Kenyans waited in expectation that he appoint a representative cabinet that represents the face of Kenya.
If threats of Raila’s arrest are actualised, it would not come as a surprise; he has once been arrested, detained and subsequently charged for treason in the wake of the failed 1982 August 1, coup de tat.
The charges were dropped but he was detained without trial between 1982 to 1988 by the Moi regime for his alleged role in the said affair. Raila’s father, the late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, who was Kenya’s first vice-president, had earlier been carted away to house arrest for attempting to form a political party to challenge Kanu during Jomo Kenyatta’s reign.
Raila’s mother passed on while he was in jail. As if that was not enough, Raila found himself back in jail between September 1988 to 1989, for his alleged role in clandestine anti- Moi activities. He was released only to be thrown back in 1990 for joining the multiparty struggle, and released in 1991.
In 1992, Raila made his way into parliament by winning the Langata seat against Kanu’s Philip Leakey and PICK’s Perez Olindo. When his father and mentor died in 1994, Raila inherited his support in Nyanza, where the Ford- Kenya had immense following.
Copyright © 2003 Kenya Times Media Trust,All rights reserved.