Trouble brewing in Kenya

According to this Washington Times column, Kenya’s new Prime Minister is not a good guy:

By mid-February 2008, more than 1,500 Kenyans were killed. Many were slain by machete-armed attackers. More than 500,000 were displaced by the religious strife. Villages lay in ruin. Many of the atrocities were perpetrated by Muslims against Christians.

The violence was led by supporters of Raila Odinga, the opposition leader who lost the Dec. 27, 2007, presidential election by more than 230,000 votes. Odinga supporters began the genocide hours after the final election results were announced Dec. 30. Mr. Odinga was a member of Parliament representing an area in western Kenya, heavily populated by the Luo tribe, and the birthplace of Barack Obama’s father.

Mr. Odinga had the backing of Kenya’s Muslim community heading into the election. For months he denied any ties to Muslim leaders, but fell silent when Sheik Abdullahi Abdi, chairman of the National Muslim Leaders Forum, appeared on Kenya television displaying a memorandum of understanding signed on Aug. 29, 2007, by Mr. Odinga and the Muslim leader. Mr. Odinga then denied his denials.

The details of the MOU were shocking. In return for Muslim backing, Mr. Odinga promised to impose a number of measures favored by Muslims if he were elected president. Among these were recognition of “Islam as the only true religion,” Islamic leaders would have an “oversight role to monitor activities of ALL other religions [emphasis in original],” installation of Shariah courts in every jurisdiction, a ban on Christian preaching, replacement of the police commissioner who “allowed himself to be used by heathens and Zionists,” adoption of a women’s dress code, and bans on alcohol and pork.

This was not Mr. Odinga’s first brush with notoriety. Like his father, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, the main opposition leader in the 1960s and 1970s, Raila Odinga is a Marxist He graduated from East Germany’s Magdeburg University in 1970 on a scholarship provided by the East German government. He named his oldest son after Fidel Castro.

Other than his involvement in post-election violence, I hadn’t heard any of this before. The news reports that Kenya is currently at peace, with a power-sharing arrangement in place between Odinga and President Kibaki, but with this man at the center of Kenyan politics, it doesn’t sound like that peace will last.

There is an American angle to this story, too. If Odinga is at the center of Kenyan politics, it’s because Barack Obama helped put him there:

Initially, Mr. Odinga was not the favored opposition candidate to stand in the 2007 election against President Mwai Kibaki, who was seeking his second term. However, he received a tremendous boost when Sen. Barack Obama arrived in Kenya in August 2006 to campaign on his behalf. Mr. Obama denies that supporting Mr. Odinga was the intention of his trip, but his actions and local media reports tell otherwise.

Mr. Odinga and Mr. Obama were nearly inseparable throughout Mr. Obama’s six-day stay. The two traveled together throughout Kenya and Mr. Obama spoke on behalf of Mr. Odinga at numerous rallies. In contrast, Mr. Obama had only criticism for Kibaki. He lashed out against the Kenyan government shortly after meeting with the president on Aug. 25. “The [Kenyan] people have to suffer over corruption perpetrated by government officials,” Mr. Obama announced.

“Kenyans are now yearning for change,” he declared. The intent of Mr. Obama’s remarks and actions was transparent to Kenyans – he was firmly behind Mr. Odinga.

Obama has shown extraordinarily poor judgement by becoming associated with this character, the latest in a long line of dubious characters (Ayers, Wright, Rezko, Samantha Power, Jim Johnson).

(Via the Corner.)

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