In Summary
  • Mr Odinga is the AU's High Representative for Infrastructure Development in Africa.

  • A section of leaders, especially those allied to Deputy President William Ruto, had asked the former prime minister to concentrate on his appointment and avoid local politics.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga on Saturday gave the clearest indication that he will continue to engage in local politics despite his new diplomatic job at the African Union (AU).

Mr Odinga, who spoke for the first time in his Nyanza backyard on his new appointment as the AU High Representative for Infrastructure Development in Africa, assured his supporters that his new role will not alienate him from them.

NAIROBI OFFICE

"I am going nowhere. My new appointment as AU envoy comes with an office in Nairobi, Kenya. I will just be travelling to Ethiopia, South Africa, among other African nations, on assignment and returning to the office in Nairobi, where I will be based," Mr Odinga said.

He addressed mourners at Nyangera village in Yimbo, Siaya County, during the burial of Mr William Okello, who was the brother of Nation Media Group Director, Mr Francis Okello.

A section of leaders, especially those allied to Deputy President William Ruto, had asked the former prime minister to concentrate on his new appointment and steer clear of local politics.

They said Mr Odinga's new role was full-time and needed his attention.

But Mr Odinga's allies, including officials of the Luo Council of Elders, have insisted the job is advisory and cannot stop him from engaging in local politics.

ULTERIOR MOTIVES

The ODM boss told his supporters that he will not be out of the country "forever" so there is no cause for alarm.

"I want our people to engage in healthy politics that enhances development," Mr Odinga said.

His elder brother and East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) MP, Oburu Oginga, who first introduced the debate as he spoke at the funeral, said Mr Odinga will continue to play local politics "as he is a politician by blood."

"He (Raila) is there to stay. Those who think he will retire soon are simply daydreaming," Dr Oginga said.

He criticised those censuring Mr Odinga to keep off local politics based on his age and accused them of harbouring ulterior motives.

"Everyone ages day by day. Raila cannot be old if Oburu is not because I am older than him. He is just my follower," added Dr Oginga.

HANDSHAKE

Senate Minority Leader and Siaya Senator James Orengo assured their supporters that the handshake between Mr Odinga and President Uhuru Kenyatta "will change the country”.

"The handshake was not an easy task. We are confident it will come with many developments for the good of our people," Mr Orengo said.

He pointed out that the cordial relationship between Mr Odinga and President Kenyatta was good for the country.

Mr Odinga eulogised Mr Okello as a Pan-Africanist and a hero.

Deputy Governor James Okumbe, Engineer Tom Okoko and local MCAs attended the funeral.