Raila Odinga opens up on secession debate

Thursday October 19 2017

Opposition leader Raila Odinga has, for the first time, come out and talked about the secession debate.

Mr Odinga says does not support the formation of the so called People’s Republic of Kenya but believes those pushing that agenda have legitimate concerns.


Proponents of the separatist agenda, he said, have “a justified cause” due to what he termed as “successive ethnic discrimination” since independence.

In an interview with The Financial Times when he visited London last week, Mr Odinga maintained that his desire is to see Kenya remain one.

“We believe in a united Kenya. We do not support secession, but you have seen the disintegration of countries in eastern Europe. This debate about self-determination is gaining currency as a result of mis-governance,” Mr Odinga told FT.


“The debate about self-determination is gaining currency. When people become desperate they resort to desperate measures,” Mr Odinga added.

The Nasa leader warned that a political crisis triggered by a disputed presidential poll and years of “ethnic discrimination” have stirred an unprecedented debate about secession.


The break-away debate was ignited by one of Mr Odinga’s advisers, Mr David Ndii, just after the nullification of the presidential election by the Supreme Court.

“People feel they have been completely disenfranchised. But we’re clearly in a political environment that could start hurtling downhill and it could go in any direction,” Mr Ndii said.

The opposition leader revisited history pointing out that that power had for too long been dominated by two communities since independence.

On the subject of the repeat presidential poll scheduled for October 26, the opposition leader said should the election go on without him in the ballot, then it would be in gross violation of the Constitution.

Mr Odinga argued that he pulled out of the repeat poll after the electoral commission failed to address key issues he raised that would have guaranteed a level playing ground with his main competitor President Uhuru Kenyatta.

“It will be a gross violation of the Constitution. . . basically a nullity. Null and void,” he said.


The Nasa leader wants reforms in the electoral commission, including the removal of some top officials whom he has accused of bungling the August 8 poll.

CEO of Inuka Kenya Trust Mr John Githongo said that although there had never been strong secessionist movements in Kenya, the impasse following the August election had ignited a discussion.

“It is a subject of intense debate. You have demonstrators walking around with flags saying ‘People’s Republic of Kenya’,” Mr Githongo said.

“As a debate, I can categorically say this has legs.” But, he added, the debate may not gain political traction because it does not enjoy support from the two political bigwigs— Mr Odinga and President Kenyatta.