Raila’s secret MoU with Muslims revealed
Published on November 28, 2007, 12:00 am
By Ben Agina
The lid has finally been lifted on the controversial Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Muslim leaders and the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) presidential candidate, Mr Raila Odinga.
With its secrets unveiled at an international press conference in Nairobi on Tuesday, the ghost of the six-point document — which has been a subject of intense propaganda, cyber wars and a source of concern for sections of the Christian community — was, hopefully, finally exorcised.
Its chief signatories are Sheikh Abdullahi Abdi, the chairman of the National Muslim Leaders Forum (Namlef) and Raila, while Mr Mohammed Farouk Adam, Mr Said Athman Mtwana and Mr Najib Balala have signed as witnesses. The pact was quietly signed on August 29.
After captivating the country for several weeks, it was an anti-climax of sorts when the much talked about MoU turned out to be merely a timid piece of quid pro quo paper agreement between someone seeking votes for a top political office and a group that believes they have been treated as third-rate citizens by successive governments.
It said nothing about the Sharia law.
Instead, the MoU — which has been widely circulated on the Internet as the ultimate dangerous piece of accord — turned out to be an agreement aimed at safeguarding the interest of the Muslims.
“This MoU is made to secure and cement solidarity and partnership between Hon Raila Odinga and Namlef constituency based on values of mutual trust, honesty, integrity, transparency and good governance,” the pact reads in part.
It further states: “This MoU is made in utmost good faith and trust between Hon Raila Odinga and Namlef with the common objective of transforming our country Kenya into a proud, prosperous and just nation, where all Kenyans live in harmony realising their full potential without discrimination, subjugation or fear.”
Kibaki and Kalonzo non-committal
On Tuesday, Namlef — who originated the idea — further revealed that it held consultative meetings with President Kibaki and ODM-Kenya Presidential candidate Mr Kalonzo Musyoka with a view to entering into a similar pact.
Both were non-committal, Sheikh Abdullahi, told journalists.
“We met Kibaki once and then met Kalonzo and Raila three times. It’s only Raila who made a commitment,” Abdullahi, who said Namlef finally entered into the pact with Raila and decided to support him for the presidency because of his “consistency, valour and statesmanship”.
Abdullahi was speaking at the Namlef offices in Hurlingham, Nairobi.
And on Tuesday, Raila said: “Not all leaders are so opportunistic as to disown solemn memorandums in the interest of political expediency, as Kibaki so brazenly did after becoming president”.
The outgoing Lang’ata MP said he never kept the pact secret and that he publicly spoke about it on September 1, after securing the ODM presidential nomination.
He added in a statement e-mailed to newsrooms on Tuesday night by the Orange party secretariat: “I subsequently mentioned this memorandum at other public events as well, since I have every intention of honouring what I have formally committed myself to.”
Raila reiterated that the agreement with the Muslims was not the first such memorandum to be signed.
He said just before the 2002 elections, at the Nyali Beach Hotel, Mombasa, President Kibaki along with the late former Vice-President Mr Michael Wamalwa, Mr Kalonzo Musyoka, Mrs Charity Ngilu, Mr Najib Balala, the late Mr Karisa Maitha and himself signed a similar one with the Muslims.
The 2002 memorandum, Raila said, was necessary because all the then Narc Summit members recognised Muslims as having been historically marginalised, sometimes victimised and viewed as a national minority to be discriminated against.
“In 2002, President Kibaki as a Christian did not feel the need to sign a memorandum with the Christians. Nor did I. Like him, I am a Christian, baptised as an Anglican,” said Raila, who together with Pentagon members Ngilu and Balala had earlier yesterday addressed a press conference at Wilson Airport, Nairobi, before embarking on a campaign tour of the Coast, touched on the pact.
Hatred between Muslims and Christians
He added: “Our opponents simple aim was to create hatred between Muslims and Christians, in a bid to promote the re-election of the President.”
Raila said those behind the propaganda included Party of National Unity (PNU) leaders and some religious figures, who were trying to portray themselves as defending Christian rights.
In the pact, copies of which were provided to the media, Raila promised to initiate within the first year of his presidency deliberate policies and programmes to redress historical, current and structural marginalisation and injustices on Muslims in Kenya.
These will include the entrenchment in the Constitution of provisions that will outlaw the targeting and profiling of any member of the Kenyan community (including Muslims) and subjecting them to human rights abuses, violations and discrimination under any guise whatsoever.
Raila and Namlef agreed to the setting up of a commission of inquiry on deliberate schemes and actions of Government, its agencies or officers to target or interfere with welfare and social wellbeing of Muslims in Kenya.
According to the MoU, Raila is to accord northern Kenya and the Coast Province and other neglected areas budgetary priority in infrastructural development in the sectors of road telecommunications, water, housing, education and health.
Namlef and Raila agreed to embark on the radical transformation of Kenya to a “just harmonious, peaceful and prosperous nation based on good governance, constitutionalism and the rule of law and a genuinely devolved government”.
Yesterday, Abdullahi observed that the Government had meted out calculated, deliberate, unprecedented discrimination intimidation and harassment of sections of Kenyans, including Muslims.
“Namlef and the Muslim community in Kenya desire to see an end to this,” said Abdullahi, who was flanked by the forum’s National Executive Committee.