- In a spirited address at the Devolution Conference in Eldoret on Thursday, Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition leader Raila Odinga voiced his firm response to recent comments made by the US Ambassador to Kenya, Meg Whitman, regarding the country's democratic credentials.
- Raila's response is indicative of the nuanced perspectives within Kenyan politics and society regarding international assessments of their democratic processes.
In a spirited address at the Devolution Conference in Eldoret on Thursday, Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition leader Raila Odinga voiced his firm response to recent comments made by the US Ambassador to Kenya, Meg Whitman, regarding the country's democratic credentials.
Raila's remarks underscored the sensitivity of the topic and its potential impact on ongoing national discussions.
The opposition leader pulled no punches as he addressed the audience at the Devolution Conference regarding the US ambassador's recent remarks.
"Finally we want to tell the rogue ambassador; leave Kenyans alone. If maandamano can lead to a dialogue between Ichung’wa and Kalonzo, everything is good with maandamano," Raila firmly stated amid cheers from attendees of the function.
Odinga continued, "Tell the rogue ambassador Kenya is not the United States, Kenya is not a colony of the United States. Keep your mouth shut while here otherwise we’ll call for your recall back to your country. I thank you, ladies and gentlemen."
"Kenya is not a colony of the United States, keep your mouth shut otherwise, we will call for your recall back to your country" - Raila Odinga tells US Ambassador Meg Whitman pic.twitter.com/84Ae4oYvlX— Citizen TV Kenya (@citizentvkenya) August 17, 2023
Raila's strong words emphasized the need for mutual respect and appropriate conduct by foreign diplomats within Kenya's borders.
The motivation behind Odinga's forceful response lies in the statements made by Azimio MPs, who had previously criticized Ambassador Whitman for her remarks.
The controversy escalated as Azimio MPs, echoing Odinga's concerns, criticized Ambassador Whitman's remarks, urging her to reconsider her statements which they believed contradicted the United States' commitment to democratic values.
The legislators went on to express that her comments had the potential to undermine ongoing national dialogues.
Ambassador Whitman delivered her observations during the opening of the Devolution Conference on Wednesday.
She praised Kenya's 2022 general elections, asserting that they affirmed Kenya's position as the most democratic state on the continent.
"I arrived in Kenya days before the August 2022 General Election, and what I witnessed was nothing short of remarkable. Kenya held, what many analysts and commentators say, was the free-est, fairest and most credible election in Kenyan history. The elections were observed by international and local organizations, and the results were upheld by the Kenyan Supreme Court, and power was transferred orderly and peacefully," Whitman noted.
Raila's response is indicative of the nuanced perspectives within Kenyan politics and society regarding international assessments of their democratic processes.
The discourse highlights the delicate balance between external evaluations and internal perceptions of democracy's vitality.
The Ambassador's remarks, although intended to recognize Kenya's electoral achievements, inadvertently sparked a debate that goes beyond mere accolades.
It has ignited discussions around the sovereignty of Kenya's democracy and the perception of foreign intervention. As the national talks continue, it remains to be seen how these discussions will impact the collective vision for Kenya's future.