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Kenya’s dogged opposition leader Raila Odinga at a crossroads

FILE: Odinga campaigns recently.

Nairobi, Kenya | AFP |  Raila Odinga has been Kenya’s prime minister and longtime opposition leader, but with results in from Tuesday’s general election, it seems he has once again failed to get the one job he’s always wanted: the presidency.

This may very well be the end of the line for the 72-year-old, a mainstay of Kenyan politics since the 1980s, who many think will not run for office again.

However his legacy is at stake, with all eyes on how he will react after claiming Tuesday’s vote was massively rigged, which prompted violent protests in his strongholds.

He has urged calm among his supporters while ominously repeating: “I don’t control the people.”

Odinga’s doggedness is matched among Kenya’s political class only by that of his father, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, who led the opposition for three decades but never the country.

In his fourth shot at the presidency Odinga felt certain to pull off a victory against 55-year-old incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta with a newly formed coalition called the National Super Alliance (NASA) that was intended to overcome traditional opposition divisions.

However he lost with 44.7 percent to Kenyatta’s 54.2 percent.

Odinga now finds himself back in a role all too familiar to him: crying foul at a vote he claims was rigged while Kenyatta and his Jubilee party celebrate a second term in office.

Odinga and Kenyatta know each other well, and both men’s fathers did, too. A generation ago, Jaramogi Odinga lost out to Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya’s first post-independence leader.

Odinga has been able to patch up coalitions.
Odinga greets Uhuru Kenyatta at a recent event. The two giants battled again.

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