Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, now on a sabbatical in the US, was forced to travel by a chartered flight instead of the commercial one he had initially been booked on following a tip off that unknown people were monitoring his movements.
His departure had to be rescheduled for ‘security reasons’ opting for a French airline instead of the British Airways he had initially been booked on.
In addition, the former PM flew out of the country three days earlier than he had been scheduled on the night of March 9 en-route to the US, where he has been for the past three months giving lectures on African politics and key note speeches on democracy at the invitation of the African Presidential Centre at Boston University.
Raila’s official diary keeper, Silas Jakakimba would neither deny nor confirm that the former PM switched flights and rescheduled his departure to shake off whoever might have been keeping tabs on his schedule. However, the long-time aide leaves no doubt there was a last minute tinkering with his boss’ itinerary over security reasons he would not reveal.
He says: “Odinga pays equal respect to and has confidence in all local and international airlines that operate to and from JKIA. What is important to note is that he left JKIA for the US in early March 2014 according to script and just as had been planned well in advance. Imperatively, and due to security reasons on the one hand and others not for disclosure, I would say it would be most prudent to leave the matter to rest at that without going to finer details of itineraries and attendant flight numbers.”
The revelations come barely a week after Raila’s elder brother, Dr Oburu Oginga, sensationally alleged a plot by some East African leaders to assassinate his brother for allegedly being an impediment to economic lift-off the five-member regional bloc.
Raila has been seen as a darling of the West while East African Community (EAC) governments have inclined economically toward China in the East, to the chagrin of the former bloc.
Dr Oburu later told The Standard on Saturday that the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) had “credible intelligence” that some leaders from the EAC were uncomfortable with Raila’s long sabbatical in the US.
According to Oburu, perceptions of filial relationship with US President Barack Obama, whose father was Luo, have also worked against his brother. Asked to qualify his allegations, the nominated MP said some regional leaders fear Raila’s relations with the US had the potential to destabilise East Africa.
Contacted by email, upon request, embassies of accused countries dismissed the allegations. A senior officer at one of the embassies, who identified himself as Emmanuel said his government would investigate the allegations.
“Sometimes it is not necessary to respond to these allegation,” he said.
Another High Commissioner, in an email response, termed the allegations as baseless.
“Those are imaginary and manufactured rumors that should deserve little attention,” said the statement.
The Criminal Investigations Department (CID) on Wednesday declined to take a statement from Dr Oburu, sparking complaints in ODM that the state either wanted to belittle Raila by directing the MP to give the information to junior officers at county or does not want to leave a trail that would later prove the allegations.
This is not the first time allegations of a plot to kill Raila have been made.
In April 2012, Raila’s first cousin and Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo sensationally alleged a plot had been hatched by a minister in the Kibaki administration to assassinate Raila ahead of the 2013 polls.
Oburu says he had learnt of the plot during the recent state visit by Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang. However, he would not divulge the source of the information, but he justified his decision to go public citing past instances when the likes of Tom Mboya, JM Kariuki and Robert of Ouko who had information on threats to their lives but chose to keep quiet.
“I was informed by people present when the Chinese leader was at State House that an EAC leader wanted Raila not to be allowed back in the country when his tour of the US ends. He was agitated when he was here to attend the signing of the agreement with the China for the construction of the standard gauge railway. He was overheard uttering: ‘Hakuna haja ya kuona yeye katika hii dunia’ (There is no need for him to be alive again),” Dr Oburu.
Contacted about threats to his security, Raila would not comment on his brother’s allegations, but Jakakimba told The Standard on Saturday the former PM heard of the assassination plot for the first time when his elder brother spoke about it.
Significantly, Raila has not disowned his brother statements that have elicited furious responses from state functionaries.Raila has had frosty relations with some EAC leaders.
In the wake of the 2007-08 post-elections, President Museveni rushed to Nairobi in a botched attempt to reconcile Raila and Mwai Kibaki, who had been controversially declared winner of the polls. When Raila rejected Museveni as mediator, the latter would later deride the former’s community as “mad jaluo” who had reacted to electoral dispute by uprooting a section of the railway in Kibera.
The railway is a major arterial transport link between the port of Mombasa and Uganda.
Against this backdrop, Raila has had a longstanding ‘mutual suspicion’ and aversion for Museveni and lately Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, whom he frequently chides as impediments to democracy in Africa.
The US has been critical of Uganda involvement in the South Sudan conflict that pits President Salva Kiir against his former deputy Dr Riek Machar.
Museveni is alleged to have taken sides in the civil war after he deployed troops to support Kiir, relegating to the periphery room for impartiality by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development chaired by President Uhuru Kenyatta.