Why Raila Rejected Kibaki's Letter Naming Him Prime Minister

  • ODM Party Leader Raila Odinga File
  • The power-sharing agreement between former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and retired President Mwai Kibaki seemed destined for doom from its very inception on February 28, 2008

    Trouble started brewing from the moment chief mediator Koffi Annan made an announcement that there had been a breakthrough and an agreement of a power-sharing deal in which the two co-principals would split the national cake down the middle.

    However, according to Raila in his autobiography, The Flame of Freedom Kibaki's underlings were hell-bent on undermining his authority at every opportunity.

    Raila Odinga (seated on the right) alongside retired President Mwai Kibaki during the signing of the Grand Coalition February 28, 2008

    The first punch thrown from Kibaki's camp came via a letter signed by the former president, appointing Raila to the post of Prime Minister (PM).

    Despite the ODM party leader's ascension to the role of PM being part of the agreement, he viewed the letter as a calculated move by Kibaki to pull rank and assert his superiority.

    “I was astonished that such a letter could be sent by one principal to another in a coalition of equal partners, and I found it preposterous for him to purport to be appointing me, spelling out my duties,” an excerpt of his book divulged.

    The opposition party leader rejected the letter, reiterating that his position as Prime Minister was enshrined in the agreement that was signed giving birth to the Grand Coalition Government.

    Kibaki's team then allegedly landed their second blow, this time via  the then Head of Public Service, Francis Muthaura, who released a statement highlighting the hierarchy of power in the government, which placed Raila at number three behind Kalonzo Musyoka who had been named as Vice-President (VP).

    “I as PM would be number three, with the title ‘The Right Honourable’. My coalition partners were apparently determined to cut me down to size at every turn," Raila disclosed.

    Their partnership sunk deeper and deeper culminating into a showdown during the haggling for Cabinet positions.

    After an initial agreement to set up a lean Cabinet of 24 posts, Raila claimed Kibaki backtracked and filled the 24 positions with his party members, forcing the government to set up a bloated government to also incorporate Raila's candidates. 

    Their political marriage eventually ended in disaster, having been brought together following the hotly contested General Elections of 2007 which sparked nationwide violence leaving an estimated 1000 citizens dead and hundreds of thousands displaced from their homes.

    From left former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, retired President Mwai Kibaki, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and former Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi