Prime Minister Raila Odinga plans to counter allegations contained in a provocative new book by his former aide in an effort to control potential damage from his acrimonious falling out with author Miguna Miguna.
ODM insiders have offered Mr Odinga several options to tackle the charges levelled against him in Peeling Back the Mask, Mr Miguna’s memoir of his time in the Prime Minister’s office. (READ: Inside Raila’s kitchen cabinet)
Some within ODM feel that Mr Odinga should tackle Mr Miguna head on. There has been talk of going after Mr Miguna’s character and offering an examination of his record, which some on the PM’s team say would undermine his authority.
This team has been calling for publicisation of some court cases Mr Miguna battled while in exile in Canada. One source within ODM, who requested anonymity because consultations are still ongoing, said: “Who is Miguna?
“How was his tenure as adviser on coalition affairs? What did he achieve? How did he get the job?
“What determined his choice of publisher? Why did he flirt with American fundamentalists like the anti-Obama right winger Jerome Corsi in seeking to publish the book? These are some of the issues we will address.”
A second option Mr Odinga has been advised to pursue would be to encourage some of those whose character has been brought into question to seek redress in the courts, both in Nairobi and London.
This is viewed as an effort to bring into doubt the authenticity of some of the claims and to demand that Mr Miguna provide evidence for his charges of corruption in the PM’s office.
In an interview with NTV before the official launch of his book on Saturday, Mr Miguna said he was ready to meet his challengers in court, where he would represent himself.
“I hear that they want to take me to court. I am a lawyer, and I will teach them some law.”
Some within Mr Odinga’s team of advisers think the PM should ignore Mr Miguna entirely, saying responding to him might be seen as validating the claims.
Speaking at the official launch of the book on Saturday, lawyer Paul Muite advised the PM not to take this course of action.
Mr Muite said the new book should not be viewed as an attack on individuals but as an effort to advance Kenya’s political culture and to introduce greater openness in public life.
He said the PM should respond to the contents of the book instead of “fence- sitting”. “Kenyans want to know the real Odinga,” Mr Muite said.
He called on Mr Odinga to offer a detailed, blow-by-blow response to Mr Miguna’s charges.
The former Kikuyu MP said in developed democracies like America, a candidate’s past is examined back to the nursery school level, something that needs to be replicated in this country.
“Was he the beneficiary of the issues we are reading in the book? We also want to hear the unfinished business of the 1982 coup,” Mr Muite said.
During the launch, a fire-spitting Mr Miguna defended his motives for writing the book, casting himself as a whistleblower who had stood against more conservative forces in the PM’s office.
He also sensationally claimed he had evidence of a senior ODM figure’s participation in planning the post-election violence.
Mr Miguna’s book has caused a sensation in political circles. It seeks to undermine Mr Odinga’s credentials as a reformist and has been latched on to by the PM’s opponents like Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka and URP presidential aspirant William Ruto.
The ODM team says it intends to go on the attack this week. They hope to reveal some of the inconsistencies they say are in the book.
But a defiant Miguna on Saturday warned those around Mr Odinga to tread carefully because he claimed he has more on them.
He said he was working on a second book, including his diaries which he said revealed the role of some ODM leaders in planning the post-election violence.
Reaction to Mr Miguna’s book continued on Saturday. Nairobi lawyer PLO Lumumba confirmed meeting former World Bank country director Colin Bruce at the height of the 2008 election crisis as reported in the book but denied the meeting was about recognition of President Kibaki.
“We met to discuss modalities of peaceful reconciliation when the country was in chaos,” Mr Lumumba told the Sunday Nation.
He was reacting to a claim by Mr Miguna that the meeting was to lay down strategies on how world leaders would recognise Kibaki.
Mr Miguna claims Dr Bruce was recalled from Kenya when the meeting’s agenda leaked.
Yesterday, Mr Lumumba said those at the meeting were not “Kibaki affiliated” professionals as claimed by Mr Miguna in his book.