Odinga, Raila Amolo

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Odinga, Raila Amolo

Raila Amolo Odinga (räē´lä ämō´lō ōdĬn´gä) 1945–, Kenyan political leader, son of Oginga Odinga, Kenya's first vice president. After earning (1970) a degree in mechanical engineering from the Univ. of Magdeburg, East Germany, he returned home and taught at the Univ. of Nairobi. He also founded an industrial consulting firm and became a successful businessman. In 1982 he was accused of participating in a coup plot against President Daniel arap Moi and was jailed for six years. Soon incarcerated again (1989, 1990), he fled (1991–92) to Norway; upon his return, he was elected to parliament. In 1997 he ran unsuccessfully for president. Later, he allied himself with the ruling Kenya National African Union and became (2001) Moi's energy minister. Odinga supported Mwai Kibaki in the 2002 presidential race, and served in Kibaki's cabinet for three years, but he then founded the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) and ran against Kibaki in 2007. The ODM won a parliamentary plurality, but Kibaki was declared reelected under questionable circumstances. Ethnic violence subsequently swept Kenya, and negotiations led (to a coalition government with Odinga as prime minister (2008–13). Odinga lost later bids for the presidency to Uhuru Kenyatta in 2013 and 2017, but irregularities led the supreme court to annul the 2017 vote and call for a new election. Odinga demanded election reform first, withdrew from the rerun, and rejected Kenyatta's election, but later (2018) agreed to a national unity program.

See B. A. Badejo, Raila Odinga: An Enigma in Kenyan Politics (2006).

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