Time Moi Used Raila's Plight to Win Elections

  • ODM leader Raila Odinga has been through intense political tribulations throughout his time as a politician, one of the most trying being his detention without trial between 1982 and 1988 after the 1982 coup attempt to oust Moi.

    In his autobiography Flames of Freedom (2013), Odinga revisits an event towards the end of his detention when Moi granted them freedom after they received a rare chance to have a one-on-one meeting.

    On February 5, 1988, Odinga wrote that he alongside eight other detainees who joined him were asked to change into civilian clothes and taken to the State House to meet the president.

    Odinga was appointed the spokesperson to speak for the entire group, and as they hushed over what they would say before Moi, Raila insisted that they should not thank Moi or apologise for the crimes they had committed.

    From right President Uhuru Kenyata, Daniel Moi and Raila Odinga.

    When he was finally presented before Moi, Odinga narrated that he opened his heart out to the country's second president on the conditions that they had shared in detention.

    "I told him I wanted him to know that the conditions had been punitive in the extreme... Then I told him that the idea of detention without trial is reprehensible and inhuman. If a Kenyan has to be banished to prison for whatever reason, he should first go through the process of law," he told Moi.

    Odinga then intimated that Moi seemed openly saddened by the incarceration of the political activists and apologetically stated that it was not his pleasure to take them through that pain, but as a matter of necessity.

    Unbeknownst to the Odinga and his partners, Moi had schemed well ahead of them and orchestrated their release at a time he thought to be most convenient.

    "In our joy at being released, we did not realise that this was all a bigger plan for Moi, but we were soon to find out. As we left State House, the main item on the radio news was that Moi had released some detainees," he wrote.

    While Raila indicated that three others, including Mukaru Ng'ang'a, had not been released from custody along with them, the news of their release worked in Moi's advantage.

    "It was the news of our release in conjunction with the second news that was interesting. Moi had already dissolved parliament and now, the same day as releasing us, he released the timetable for elections, which would end with the polling day for the following month, on March 21," Odinga wrote.

    Former president Daniel Moi used Odinga and his team's release from prison as a launching pad for his successful 1988 presidential bid.

    He revealed that he only joined the dots after the release that Moi had used their freedom as a propaganda tool with which he launched his successful 1988 presidential bid.