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Kenyan Opposition Leader Under Fire for Signing a Pact and Denying it

In Kenya, the presidential candidate of the opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) has come under increasing criticism for reportedly signing a pact with some Muslim leaders and denying it. Raila Odinga’s blames the media for blowing things out of proportion. But some political analysts believe that Odinga’s credibility has been tarnished, and his chances of challenging incumbent President Mwai Kibaki in December 7 elections could be affected. Meanwhile, some Kenyans are demanding Odinga reveal details of the pact he signed.

From the capital, Nairobi political analyst Paul Mbatia tells reporter Peter Clottey that supporters of President Kibaki may use this controversy against Odinga.

“There are two things here; one is that if there was a deal that was made between Raila and the Muslims, people would want to understand, what kind of deal was entered. Is it the kind of memorandum of understanding that would give the Muslims the upper hand against other religious groups in this country? That is very, very sensitive. Two, now that Raila is denying, that touches on his integrity. How can he sign a memorandum of understanding with the Muslims and then he deny? People would then ask what kind of president would we have who denies things that are clear and that are known?” asked Mbatia.

He said the controversy surrounding the signing of a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) between Odinga and the Muslims could potentially hurt the opposition leader in December’s poll.

“Certainly he has not gained mileage in the interim because in today’s newspapers, Raila admits that there was a deal between him and the Muslims. But much earlier he had in a way refused to accept that, so you can see he has now changed his stands because the Muslims had said for their part that they are willing to diverge the deal that they entered with him,” he said.

Mbatia explained that Odinga had given Kibaki supporters ammunition to fire at the opposition leader as campaigns continue ahead of next month’s vote.

“What comes out clear is that at least an MOU was signed, and neither the Muslims nor Raila are willing to tell us what kind of pact it was. It is controversial, and it is likely to be used by PNU (Party of National Unity) supporters to discredit the character and the integrity of Raila as a presidential candidate,” Mbatia pointed out.

He noted that it has always been the norm for Kenyan politicians to blame the media when things don’t seem to go their way.

“I would say that, that is not uncharacteristic of Kenyan politicians. When they are pushed to the wall the first to be blamed is the media. So, it is not surprising that Raila is saying that he was misquoted and misreported. It is a sensitive issue and the nation appears to be hell-bent to prove that he did not tell the truth,” he said.