Kenya’s leading opposition presidential candidate of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) is accusing a section of the Christian clergy of misleading the public and turning their flock against him. Raila Odinga said the clergy is using a recent Memorandum of Understanding that he allegedly signed with sections of the Muslim community to mislead the public. There are speculations that Odinga is a pagan and would introduce the Moslem Sharia Law when elected president of Kenya. Odinga said the rumors are a calculated attempt by incumbent President Mwai Kibaki’s Party of National Unity (PNU) to sabotage his campaign.
But the president’s campaign team has dismissed Odinga’s allegation as baseless. Paul Mbatia is a political science professor at the university of Nairobi. He tells reporter Peter Clottey from the capital, that Odinga is feeling the heat as the general elections nears.
“My take is that signing a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) with any religious group is quite a sensitive issue because there are various religious groups in the country. If you sign a Memorandum Of Understanding with one group, logically, your opponent might start a propaganda that the MOU is protecting the interest of one group, and leaving out the other group. And this is exactly what has happened in this case,” Mbatia noted.
He said Odinga’s opponents are using the MOU he allegedly signed with the Muslims as a political tool against him.
“Of course those opposed to him are using that to allude like he is opposed to Christians. And given that the Christians are about 80% in this country, those opposed to him are trying to use that as propaganda to antagonize him against the majority of Kenyans who are Christians. This is precisely the problem. The point that is being made is that he signed a memorandum with a minority antagonizing himself with the majority who are Christians. That is the point,” he said.
Mbatia said the recent surge of incumbent President Kibaki in the polls is putting pressure on Odinga.
“Yes, admittedly now, Honorable Raila Odinga is feeling the heat. If you have been following the polling that has been done in the recent past, about a month ago, Honorable Raila Odinga was leading with around 56%. And the gap between him and the incumbent president was nearly 10%. Over the last few weeks, that gap has been reduced and it is now a gap of about two or three percent. Certainly, he has been losing, while the incumbent has gained,” Mbatia said.