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Raila Odinga


Raila Odinga is the Prime Minister of Kenya.

More by user: AllAfrica Editorial Team
Created: 5th Feb 2008
Modified: 8th Mar 2010
Professional Information
Professional Areas:
Government of Kenya
Member of Parliament

Description of Work:

Raila Odinga was born 7 January 1945 in Nyanza province in Western Kenya. He is the son of the long-time politician and Kenya's first Vice-President Oginga Odinga. Nyanza province, home of the Luo ethnic group, is widely seen as the base of his political support.

Raila Odinga graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering from a university in East Germany in 1970. He returned home to work in academics, but quickly followed in his father's footsteps and entered politics.

In 1982, Odinga was detained and held without a trial for six years for supposedly being involved in a coup attempt. When he was released in 1988, he was quickly detained again, this time for supposedly being part of an underground movement that was supporting multi-party politics.

When multiparty politics were introduced late in 1991, Raila joined an opposition party led by his father in February 1992. In the 1992 election, he won the Langata constituency seat in parliament, a position he still currently holds.

In 1997 election, Raila ran for president, eventually finishing third. After the election, he merged his party with Kanu, the ruling party, and briefly served in parliament.

After President Moi passed Raila and chose Uhuru Kenyata to run for president, Raila quickly deserted to the opposition. In a coalition, he helped deliver votes for Mwai Kibaki, who won an overwhelming victory in the 2002 presidential election.

This time, Kibaki and Odinga had a falling out, probably over the fact that Kibaki did not create the position of prime minister for Odinga, something that Raila had supposedly been promised before the 2002 election. Raila led a campaign against a constitutional referendum that Kibaki supported, and in 2005 when the referendum was overwhelmed rejected in a vote by the Kenyan people, Kibaki banished Raila from his cabinet.

This set the stage for Raila's run for president. In September 2007, the Orange Democratic Movement, an opposition coalition, chose Odinga as its presidential candidate.

Raila gained a significant percentage of the votes in all of Kenya's provinces except for Central Province, home of President Mwai Kibaki. He led in the polls leading up to the election by a few percentage points, but ended up finishing second by a few percentage points in a widely disputed election. Raila cried foul over the results and Kenyans rioted in the streets in protest.

After weeks of widespread post-election violence, Kibaki and Raila agreed to a coalition government in February of 2008 in talks brokered with Former Secretary General of the UN Kofi Annan as mediator. Raila was sworn in as Prime Minister, along with a power-sharing cabinet, in April 17, 2008.

The post-election violence of December 2007 is still being investigated by the International Criminal Court in the Hague. In order to ensure that such violence never happens again, the Kenyan coalition government is working to institute constitutional reforms.

Biographical Information
Raila Odinga
(At a Glance)
Date of Birth: Jan/7/1945
Gender: male
Interests: Politics, Economics
Place of Origin: Kenya

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