Kenya: ODM Promises Smooth Transition If It Wins

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Nairobi — ODM has promised a smooth transition of government should it win the General Election.

The Pentagon also gave a raft of other promises, including a two-day holiday - January 2 and 3, 2008 - to celebrate its victory if it forms the next government.

"I know many of you will not be able to celebrate Christmas and so ODM will declare two days national holiday if it triumphs," ODM presidential candidate, Mr Raila Odinga, told supporters at Nakuru's Afraha Stadium when the party returned to the South Rift in quest for votes.

Raila said if his party wins, Kenyans would not witness the chaotic handing over witnessed in December 2002 when President Kibaki took over from former President Moi.

He said ODM advocated peaceful co-existence among Kenyans and not negative ethnicity and hatred as was being portrayed by their opponents.

At the same time, Raila said there was nothing to hide about his meetings with Muslims across the country and denied making any secret deals with the community. He, however, noted that the Muslim community in Kenya had been discriminated against for a long time and he had promised to protect their rights once elected as Head of State.

"I have been pained by the discrimination against our Muslim brothers and sisters... Muslims want to be treated as any other people," said Raila.

He affirmed that the party would not relent in its campaign for a Majimbo system of government despite opposition from their rivals and some church leaders.

Raila said a section of Christians sympathetic to the current Government had launched a smear campaign against him in a bid to discredit his character.

"Some churches have been openly campaigning for PNU and at the same time trying to portray me as a man who cannot be trusted with the leadership of the county," said Raila.

The former Lang'ata MP said some of the church leaders had even questioned his faith as a Christian.

"I am a Christian, baptised in the Anglican Church and I go to church every time. But at the same time, I believe we must protect the rights of other Kenyans," said Raila.

He noted that the same church leaders had deliberately confused Kenyans on his call for a devolved system of government.

"They have even bought space in newspapers and also on radio to deliberately mislead Kenyans on our call for majimbo, but that will not deter us," he said.

Raila was accompanied by the Pentagon team Mr Musalia Mudavadi, Mr William Ruto, Mr Najib Balala, Mr Joseph Nyagah and Mrs Charity Ngilu.

Before the rally, the Pentagon had earlier addressed a press conference over the Muslim issue.

Raila said Kenya was ready for a generational change that would transform the country in the way it was governed.

"We are ready to bring the much awaited generational change because the past leadership has been rigid in the way they do things," he said.

He criticised former President Moi for abandoning the youth despite having declared in 2002 that it was time for the old guard to retire from politics and hand over the leadership to the young.

"He told us in 2002 to support Uhuru (Kenyatta) because he was young and it was time the old guard retired but he is now supporting President Kibaki," said Raila.

He said ODM would continue advocating the majimbo system of governance, as it was the only way to ensure equitable distribution of resources to all parts of the country.

He said those opposing the system were ignorant and keen to ensure wealth was only distributed among the rich.

"Our opponents are talking about delegation while our aim is to introduce a devolved system which will empower people economically," he said.

He said the current system was introduced by colonialists and had long outlived its usefulness. "Even Britain which came up with the current system realised that it could not work and have since adopted devolution," he added.

Raila appealed to residents of Rift Valley to disregard statements that ODM was a tribal party.

"In ODM, we have people from all tribes and regions while some of those criticising us have confined their campaign to a particular zone," he said.

Ngilu said Kibaki should not be trusted because he reneged on the pre-election Memorandum of Understanding.

"Please ignore President Kibaki's pledges. He cannot be trusted because he trashed the MoU we signed on power sharing," she said.

Mudavadi said the ODM wave was unstoppable and President Kibaki should be ready for a humiliating defeat.

"The country is ripe for change and the youth are yearning for new leadership. Kibaki should be ready to go home," he said.

Ruto said the people of Rift Valley had decided which direction of leadership they wanted and PNU should stop wasting its time wooing them.

"Let them know that you have decided that the future is orange," he said.

A heavy downpour in Nakuru, which lasted for close to two hours, disrupted the ODM rally held at the town's Afraha Stadium. Ngilu had just taken the microphone to address the thousands of party supporters when it started raining, forcing her to cut her speech.

Party officials had to reorganise the programme to allow only Pentagon members to address the crowd.

Former South Mugirango MP Mr Omingo Magara arrived to find the crowd scampering from the rain while former Westlands MP Mr Fred Gumo left before he could address the gathering.

Earlier, Raila and his team had arrived at the Stadium in style aboard the Pentagon One bus to a heroic reception from party supporters.

Tagged: East Africa, Kenya

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