In Summary
  • Throughout a lifetime fighting for democracy and human rights, Mr Odinga has greatly depended on the West for succour and support.

  • The pioneer ‘meddler’ was the irascible American ‘Rogue Ambassador’ Smith Hemsptone.

  • The Odinga-Kalonzo Musyoka Cord campaign ticket was quite happy to suck up to Western intervention.

That opposition leader Raila Odinga is today angrily telling Western diplomats to stop meddling in Kenyan politics is a perfect illustration of how far the circle has turned.

Throughout a lifetime fighting for democracy and human rights, Mr Odinga has greatly depended on the West for succour and support.

From the beginning of the early 1990s struggle against President Daniel arap Moi’s one-party Kanu dictatorship, Kenya’s democracy, human rights and anti-corruption campaigns have relied on strong backing from Western diplomats.

HEMPSTONE

The pioneer ‘meddler’ was the irascible American ‘Rogue Ambassador’ Smith Hemsptone, onto a succession of like-minded envoys, including his countryman, Michael Ranneberger, Niels Dahl of Norway, Bernd Mutzelberg, of Germany and Britain’s Edward Clay.

Ahead of the 2013 elections, Western countries were united in opposition to the Jubilee alliance presidential ticket of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, who were then facing charges before the International Criminal Court out of their alleged roles in the 2007-2008 post-election butchery.

WESTERN INTERVENTION

The Odinga-Kalonzo Musyoka Cord campaign ticket was quite happy to suck up to Western intervention, lobbying hard to get the Jubilee duo ostracised.

When Jubilee won, President Kenyatta and Deputy President Ruto were, indeed, treated as pariahs by the West.

They responded by playing the nationalistic and sovereignty card, dismissing the Western powers as meddlers, reviving the Moi-era rhetoric against neo-colonialism, and accelerating the ‘Look East’ foreign policy started by President Mwai Kibaki.

Once the ICC cases collapsed midway through the Jubilee first term, Western countries abandoned the isolation of Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto.

When US President Barack Obama made his long-awaited ‘homecoming’ visit in 2015, he openly embraced President Kenyatta’s leadership, but shunned Mr Odinga and other opposition leaders.

WAKE-UP CALL

This visit should have been rude wake-up call from a leader whom Mr Odinga had always claimed to enjoy a special relationship.

He should probably have gotten a hint the previous year when he spent a lengthy sojourn on a US lecture tour.

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