Raila Odinga urges Govt apology for past abuses

BY: Isaac Yeboah

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga (right) confers with Dagoretti North MP Simba Arati during a public function at Kabiro Primary School in Mr Arati's constituency June 9, 2013. Mr Odinga has urged the government to apologise to Kenyans for atrocities committed against them by past regimes June 18, 2013.The government should follow the recommendations of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission by apologising to Kenyans for atrocities committed against them by past regimes, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga said Tuesday. READ: (Past regimes blamed for atrocities).
In a speech at a Washington think tank, he noted that the British government "had the decency to come out and apologise" to Kenya for the abuses committed by colonial authorities during the Mau Mau liberation war.

"That was an indication of a government ready to resolve disputes in a civilised manner," he said, adding, the Kenyan government "should do exactly the same as the British government did." READ: (UK says sorry for Mau Mau crimes)

Mr Odinga contrasted his acceptance of election results with the alleged failure of pan-African institutions to promote democracy.

The leader of the Orange Democratic Movement claimed he had actually won the presidential elections both in 2007 and this year. Rather than resorting to violent protests, however, "the easier option is for you to accept the results announced by the election commission and then negotiate your way out," he told an audience of diplomats, US government officials, corporate executives and NGO leaders.

Mr Odinga recalled his recent move to appeal the presidential election results at the Supreme Court. And while he did not agree with the court's verdict, Mr Odinga continued, "I told people I accept it in the interests of people in the country. If I refused to accept it, many more people would have died."

The audience in a crowded hall at the Woodrow Wilson Centre for Intentional Scholars burst into applause at those remarks.

Mr Odinga said it was "hypocritical" of the African Union to oppose the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecution of African leaders.

Mr Odinga also deplored "the grandstanding and chest-thumping you saw recently in Addis Ababa".

He was referring to the AU summit meeting in the Ethiopian capital in May at which leaders denounced the ICC for indicting only Africans and urged that the cases against President Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto be tried in Kenya.

The AU's goal should be to "ensure free and fair and democratic multiparty elections," Mr Odinga said.

"We have yet to achieve this goal in Kenya."

Despite the AU's shortcomings, Mr Odinga said its principles were worthier than those that guided its predecessor, the Organisation of African Unity.

The OAU tolerated widespread "blackmail, bribery and corruption" as well as the elimination of political opposition on the grounds of "non-interference in the affairs of sovereign states".

The AU had promised to take a different approach of "non-indifference to violation of human rights in any member state".

Calling himself an "Afro-optimist," Mr Odinga called on the AU to "lead toward a continental democratic revolution."

Echoing Rev Martin Luther King Jr, Mr Odinga declared, "I have a dream of a continent that will long have consigned poverty to history" and that "will have made the 21st century its own".

Source: Daily Nation