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Tuesday (4/8) night’s BBC America news report on renewed fighting in Kenya piqued my interest, especially when I heard that Raila Odinga, Obama’s cousin (?) has suspended power-sharing talks and is now demanding a 50-50 split in the cabinet. I couldn’t help but immediately think of MICHIGAN and Obama’s “solution” to the delegate “problem”–namely, a 50-50 split!! Needless to say, it put the whole Obama-Odinga relationship in back on my radar. The BBC website filed this report Wednesday, 4/9:
Kenya’s main opposition leader, Raila Odinga, has appealed to his supporters to exercise restraint after violence broke out in the capital, Nairobi. Mr Odinga suspended talks on forming a power-sharing government on Tuesday.”It is better to take slightly longer and get it right then to rush it and make mistakes which will lead to regrets,” he told the BBC. Mr Odinga says he wants a 50-50 split in cabinet posts as promised by an accord to end post-poll violence. Some 1,500 people died and 600,000 were displaced in January and February. …
In a piece written by Travis Kavulla for the National Review which was posted at CBS News, he commented that the December 2007 election was run with a distinct “Western” flavor…right down to the purported hiring of Dick Morris by the Odinga campaign.
This time around, the campaign season was an extravaganza aimed at the workaday voter – a remarkable notion in African politics. Pork was promised wide and far. The candidates were branded (the incumbent Mwai Kibaki cast as the elderly economist who quietly gets things done; his challenger Raila Odinga, the visionary populist who had been imprisoned under the dictatorship for the sake of Kenya’s democracy). Each presidential campaign spent millions of dollars on television advertisements. Mwai Kibaki, the president seeking a second term, had a special campaign targeting the disabled; Raila Odinga, his challenger, hired Dick Morris as a consultant. The campaigns, in short, were as refined as a Western democracy’s.
The story about Morris is that former Clinton aides who are now working for Obama supposedly dispatched Morris to help Odinga. Unfortunately, the link to this storry at news aggregator AllAfrica.com is no longer active (“cannot be ‘retrieved’ at this time”).
Former Clinton aides currently working for Obama were the “mutual acquaintances” who directed Dick Morris to Kenya to advise the Odinga campaign in November of 2007, shortly after Odinga visited with Obama in America. Morris was an extremely divisive factor in the Kenyan elections, as a foreigner, a white man, and the creator of an antagonistic “have vs. have nots” campaign platform for Odinga’s ODM. He also suggested the current campaign of civil disobedience to protest the election result, including a “Million Person March”, a la Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam.
When things got out of hand following the election, Obama called Odinga repeatedly, but Mwai Kibaki, the leader of the Government would not return his calls as he perceives Obama to be biased toward his Luo relative Odinga in the conflict. Obama is featured prominently in ODM campaign posters, slogans, and songs in Kenya, and the plaintive phrase “A Luo will become President in America before a Luo will become President in Kenya” is often heard.
The BBC also reported:
Odinga also told the BBC that Obama had … taken time out of campaigning for the New Hampshire primary to call him twice, to express his concern, and to say that he would also be calling Mr Kibaki. (Odinga says Obama is his cousin, BBC News)
More fascinating details about Odinga’s charisma and ways of organizing (that sound awful familiar) can be found in this Newsweek International piece, entitled “The Man Who Would be President.”
Obama visited Kenya in 2006 with CNN reporting a hero’s welcome (Screaming crowds welcome U.S. Senator ‘home’). At the time of the visit, Odinga capitalized on Obama’s visit and there are pictures of Odinga and Obama together greeting crowds, which may or may not be real, according to Kenyan immigrant Edwin Okong’o at the PBS FrontlineWorld blog in a piece entitled Obama: the Kenya Connection.
Because of poor governance and the corrupt nature of the Kenyan political system, which gives the president absolute power to dispense funds, many Kenyans, particularly the poor and less educated, mistakenly believe that if elected president of the United States, Obama would have the sole discretion to write a blank check to end their poverty. … Ordinary Kenyans are not the only ones who see Obama as a messiah. Kenyan politicians have been using his popularity as political capital. In 2006, opposition leader Raila Odinga tried to portray Obama’s trip to Kenya as a personal endorsement. Odinga’s supporters created T-shirts and posters with cleverly computer-altered images that showed Obama and Odinga standing side by side, arms around each other. More recently, on January 8th, Odinga told the BBC that Obama is his maternal cousin. Those who understand Kenyan politics know that Odinga’s claim is meant to rally Kenyans behind him as he tries to fight his way into the State House, Kenya’s highest office, which he contends Kibaki robbed him of by rigging the December 27 elections. But given Odinga’s controversial background and the continued ethnic violence in Kenya, his attempts to invoke Obama’s name may undermine Obama’s campaign in the U.S. … Odinga is the son of Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, Kenya’s first vice-president, a socialist who sent his son to Communist East Germany for college. The younger Odinga named one of his sons Fidel Castro and has also admitted to being one of the masterminds of a 1982 attempted coup against Daniel arap Moi, Kenya’s second president. In American Op-Ed pages and in the blogosphere, many of Obama’s political foes are already capitalizing on his supposed ties to Odinga.
The picture in question
Odinga and Obama’s father come from the same Luo tribe and Odinga’s claim that he is Obama’s cousin has neither been confirmed or denied by Obama.
The violence that erupted following the December 2007 election involved some acts by Odinga followers that were horrific, including the burning of a locked church in which 50 people perished (MSNBC). At the time of this violence, Odinga made a point of rejecting talks with the government, using terms that sound eerily familiar (recall discussions of possible scenarios in which Obama agrees to seat MI and FL delegates…)
But opposition candidate Raila Odinga refused, saying he would meet Kibaki only “if he announces that he was not elected.”
That statement and the current push for a 50-50 split of the Kenyan cabinet sure does sound “refined” doesn’t it?? And coming from a “visionary populist,” no less!
Of course, there’s more to worry about than whether Odinga is Obama’s real cousin versus just a member of the same tribal background or whether Dick Morris really worked for Odinga or not. A few months ago there were documents circulating that showed that Odinga was pushing for Sharia law in Kenya. (I saw these posted myself.) In November 2007, Kenyan Muslim leaders denied this was the case.
Kenyan Muslim leaders have dismissed as propaganda allegations that an opposition party promised to introduce Sharia for Muslims if it won elections.
The National Muslim Leaders Forum said its deal with the Orange Democratic Movement was to end the current discrimination against Muslims.
Christian leaders have been calling for the pact to be made public to end angry speculation ahead of December’s polls. …
Muslim leaders decided to make the pact public after a document circulated on the internet claimed that Mr Odinga’s ODM had pledged to introduce Sharia in parts of the country where Muslims are in the majority.
“There was a fear that Muslims will force their faith on other people, Islam does not allow suppression of other religions and we will be the last to advocate for this,” said Abdullahi Abdi of the National Muslim Leaders Forum.
Instead the memorandum of understanding, signed in August, states that Mr Odinga has pledged to defend Muslims against harassment and victimisation by state security forces who claim to be fighting terrorism.
However, you can bet that this story will resurface if Obama is nominated, particularly if the situation in Kenya continues to be volatile. Sooner or later, the Obama-Odinga connection will be “explored.” I haven’t been able to find other stories I saw a few months ago that claimed that many Odinga’s followers were members of groups with ties to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Why those stories have suddenly disappeared is something I can’t explain.
All in all, it’s a murky picture of relationships, possible political ties between Obama and Odinga’s campaign and differing stories about Islamist interests and Odinga’s political background. Rest assured, when you throw Obama’s name into the mix if he’s the nominee, the 527’s working on the Republican side will help things become even murkier…and not to Obama’s benefit.
Jerome Corsi, best-selling author of The Obama Nation: Leftist Pollitics and the Cult of Personality has been detained in Kenya…
Corsi has been released.
ALSO: Here is the Official Raila Odinga website…where he touts himself as “The People’s President” and as
“Your Agent for Change.”