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Opposition Figure Invites Kenya’s President to Forum

A leading member of Kenya’s main opposition party the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM-Kenya) is causing controversy after inviting President Mwai Kibaki to the launch of his presidential caucus next month. Supporters of the president have questioned the rationale behind the invitation. But Raila Odinga said he invited Kibaki and former President Daniel Arap Moi, as well as ordinary Kenyans, because he believes in the politics of dialogue and inclusion.

From the capital Nairobi, Raila Odinga told VOA that he would present at the forum what he calls solutions to the problems facing Kenya.

“What I’m actually presenting on the sixth of May is basically what we call the leadership views -- basically, what I see as the way forward or the solution to our problems. I’m coming with a clear vision as to the direction I think things should go -- where we are coming from, where we are, and the way forward. And I have invited all Kenyans who are able to come, to come and attend. I have invited friends and my political competitors to come that they can listen to what I have to say about our country,” he said.

Odinga said he does not believe in the politics of exclusion.

“I believe very much in the game of inclusion, I think that the way forward for our country is through dialogue. And that is the reason why I believe that they (the government) do not have all the solutions to the problems. We need to talk to each other rather than talking at each other. And that is why I have taken the liberty to invite the president, because he is one who is on the wheel. And he probably can also benefit from hearing a contrary view about how things should be going. And I hope that he will positively respond,” Odinga pointed out.

He said he has always been straightforward on various issues that he has spoken about.

“I believe strongly in stating issues clearly without mincing words. But that does not mean that I’m not open to reason or do not listen to the other side. I all the time listen, as you have heard me on the floor of the house (Parliament) when I’m debating issues. I believe in what I call a constructive opposition, meaning that you do not just oppose just for the sake of it. But you also offer alternative solutions to the problems. And that is the reason why in pursuit of that policy, I have decided to extend this invitation to His Excellency the President,” he noted.

Odinga said he wants to talk about the way forward for Kenya.

“My comments have been issue-oriented, but what I’m doing right now is to give an overall vision. You can say that it is like the State of the Union. In other words, what I’m trying to say is where are we coming from as a people, as a country? Where are we today, and then why are we here and where do we want to go and how should we get there?” he noted.