Raila talks tough on graft war

Opposition leader Raila Odinga sees a turning point in the fight against corruption that he acknowledges has been difficult.

The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader said on Tuesday that Kenya’s war, against what he termed the biggest impediment to economic growth in Africa, has started bearing fruits.

Mr Odinga and President Uhuru Kenyatta announced a union on March 9 that they said will see them push for peace and development across Kenya.

“I sat down with President Kenyatta and agreed to launch a new journey to a new Kenya. Kenyans are now saying ‘we cannot continue living like this’. We can’t continue living as Kikuyus, Luos, Kalenjins, Luhyas, Kisii, Miji Kenda. It has to stop,” he said in his lecture titled ‘Africa: A Time for Sustained Optimism’.

Mr Odinga spoke at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, in the United States.

The former Prime Minister, who was last week appointed the African Union Commission’s High Representative for Infrastructure Development, asked the continent to intensify the fight against graft for economic prosperity.

Mr Odinga spoke of neighbouring Tanzania, which he noted is also making major strides in the fight against corruption.

“My friend President John Magufuli won the election for the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi party, riding on the wave of public discontent about corruption and has since made huge gains toward eradicating the crime,” he said.

The ODM leader, however, cautioned that the war on corruption will only succeed in stable democracies.

Mr Odinga said the seven per cent annual economic growth target, that has been achieved only by 13 countries mostly in East Asia, can be replicated by African states.

A key ingredient is unity, he said, and asked African leaders to embrace the spirit of the handshake.

“Africa’s economic growth will be accelerated by African unity and political and economic integration. This includes relaxation of visa restrictions for African citizens and the cutting of tariffs on exports ,” he said.

Mr Odinga commended the March signing of the Continental Free Trade Agreement by 44 African countries, which committed to cutting tariffs on 90 per cent of goods, saying it was a positive starting point.

He told the US and other western countries not to kill African democracies and the sanctity of human rights in the quest to sustain business partnerships and anti-terror collaborations.

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