Raila targets American envoy Meg Whitman over ‘fairest election’ remark

Opposition leader Raila Odinga

Opposition leader Raila Odinga addressing his supporters at Nairobi's Pipeline Estate on March 30, 2023. 

Photo credit: Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

Opposition leader Raila Odinga yesterday accused the US Ambassador to Kenya Meg Whitman of turning a blind eye on what he said was unresolved electoral injustice in Kenya.

The Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition leader blamed the US diplomat for openly taking sides and sacrificing the push for electoral justice at the altar of development and American interests.

“There is no European democracy, American democracy and African democracy. It must be measured by the same standards universally. You cannot put development ahead of democracy,” he said in Siaya during the burial of the first Kisumu MP, grace Onyango, at her home in Gem.

“Democracy must precede development. That is why we are so surprised to see this diplomat completely turn a blind eye to violation of fundamental human rights in Kenya in the name of development. Most of them have the audacity to misrepresent facts in our country,” Mr Odinga said.

“The American Ambassador yesterday addressed American businessmen saying that Kenya did the most transparent and democratic elections in the history of Kenya. I told her that she did not know which country she was talking about,” he said.
Ms Whitman had on Wednesday attended the American Chamber of Commerce Regional business summit held in Nairobi where she said the August 9, 2022 General Election had been rated as the “most transparent and democratic.”

“I arrived in Kenya days before the August 9, 2022 elections. What I witnessed is nothing short of remarkable. Kenya held what many analysts and commentators call the freest, fairest and most credible election in Kenyan history,” Ms Whitman said, asking the American investors to put their money in Kenya.

But Mr Odinga pointed out that her short stay was not enough for her to give the process a thumbs up.
Mr Odinga noted that it was improper for the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to go ahead and declare President William Ruto as duly elected against the decision of four out of the seven commissioners.

“There was a reason why the electoral commission had an odd number of commissioners and when there is a division there must be a winner,” stated the ODM leader, who questioned whether the exact same scenario, were it to occur in the US, would have been considered acceptable.

He reiterated that Kenyans have a right to question the independence of the commission to ensure that the same mistake does not happen again in 2027.

President William Ruto, US Ambassador to Kenya Meg Whitman

President William Ruto, US Ambassador to Kenya Meg Whitman and Brenda Mbathi American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) board President during the organisation's regional business summit in Nairobi.

Photo credit: PCS

“As if that was not enough, the majority commissioners have been hounded out of office as criminals,” he added.

"Lecturing Kenyans"

He also pointed out that other representatives from the West have joined in lecturing Kenyans while continuing to ignore the defiance of fundamental human rights by the Kenya Kwanza government.
He maintained that their demand to have the IEBC servers opened so as to interrogate the credibility of the process still stands.

Mr Odinga further called for the reinstatement of the “Cherera Four” for the country to move forward. He added: “We insist that the subsidies which were put in place by the previous government to cushion Kenyans against the high cost of living should be reintroduced.”

Citing that the elected leaders have failed to represent the needs of the people after being bought and decamping to other parties, he said Kenyans have the sovereign powers to directly make decisions on their own.
He noted that Article 37 of the Constitution gives Kenyans the right to assemble, present petitions and demonstrate.
The ODM leader noted that Kenya will witness the mother of all demonstrations in Nairobi which will be attended by Kenyans from all parts of the country.

Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua however stated that they will not be cowed by any attempt to assassinate them.
“We say today that the attempt on our lives during the demonstrations was a show of cowardice,” said the Azimio deputy leader.

She went on: “You were not able to get us yesterday because God protected us from you. You will not succeed on the mission to harm us.”

She noted that prices of basic commodities have skyrocketed for all Kenyans, including the police.
Siaya Governor James Orengo also blamed Ms Whitman, saying she should not have given the August polls a thumbs up.
“The police in Kenya are becoming goons, we are telling President Ruto that he will live to regret if he touches Mr Odinga,” Mr Orengo said.

National Assembly Minority leader Opiyo Wandayi on the other hand accused the US envoy of exercising selective justice by condemning an attack on journalists while failing to condemn an attack on Mr Odinga.

“For us to take the ambassador seriously, she must also condemn the violence meted against our party leader. The international community should not be silent about these atrocities meted on the leaders and the people of Kenya,” he said.
Other leaders who also condemned the Western envoys included Seme MP James Nyikal and his Suba South counterpart Millie Odhiambo.

Additional reporting by Sharon Atieno