Raila should not be allowed to set up a government in exile

Friday February 23 2018

Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga attends the party's National Executive Council meeting at Orange House, Nairobi, on February 22, 2018. He has been appointed as the AU High Representative for Infrastructure Development. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


Before taking oath to uphold and defend the Constitution as the People’s President, National Super Alliance leader Raila Odinga threatened to set up a government in exile.

With 98.4 per cent of the 38 per cent voters who participated in the October 26 election voting in support of continuity, the establishment of a government in exile sends out a signal that there has been a coup d’etat at home.

Mr Odinga’s likely nominees to his illegal Cabinet cannot be allowed to follow him into exile for purposes of constituting an illegitimate government that will be speaking out of turn, discouraging investors and depressing demand for the new $2 billion (Sh200bn) Eurobond.

Although the Constitution states that every person has the right to leave Kenya, the government has a higher duty to detect and prevent crime.

The rightness of its cause is evident in the open manner in which it has dealt with the usual suspects, writing to 12 individuals formally notifying them that their passports are no longer valid, when it could have quietly deleted their fingerprints from the system.

A passport is the property of the government, and clearly states on the inside cover:


“These are to request and require in the name of the President of the Republic of Kenya all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance and to afford him or her every assistance and protection of which he or she may stand in need.”

People who do not recognise Mr Uhuru Kenyatta as the duly sworn in President of the Republic of Kenya have no business travelling using his name.

Their having a mock president is as sacrilegious as the Israelites worshipping a golden calf.

Anyone intending to use the President’s name to travel should face State House, prostrate, and pledge loyalty three times.

A Kenyan passport issued by states to citizens may be a constitutional entitlement, but people have to be of good behaviour, or it may be denied, suspended or confiscated where it is reasonable and justifiable to do so in an open and democratic society.

As a 50-year democracy, Kenya has a strong tradition of withdrawing and withholding passports from individuals not working for the common good.

Back in 1988, lawyer Gibson Kamau Kuria received four invitations to visit the United States to receive awards and money for defending dissidents.

Another lawyer, Mr Gitobu Imanyara, was stopped from travelling to Athens to receive the Golden Pen of Freedom Award; and Mr Mohammed Ibrahim, now judge of the Supreme Court, was prevented from leaving for the US because he felt more special than other Somalis who were collecting a pink card that qualified them to be treated as citizens.

Around the same time, the Institute for the Promotion of Human Rights in Africa invited Mr Oginga Odinga, Mr Martin Shikuku, Mr James Orengo and Mr Dennis Akumu to the US.

Mr Akumu and Mr Shikuku were physically deplaned.

Mouthy lawyers keen to teach government officials the law on immigration often realise that the classroom is always empty.

Last year’s deplaning of human rights lawyer Maina Kiai and Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commissioner Roselyn Akombe is precedent for preventing suspect elements from leaving the country; and Mr Miguna Miguna’s passport now has see-through punch holes in it.

Those who do not have dual citizenship have to tough it out with us.

They cannot be allowed to mess up the country and flee to form an illegal government in exile.

It follows a well-worn democratic tradition to keep problematic people at home.

Kenya is Hotel California — you can check out any time, but you can never leave.

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