Kenya: ‘You are a puppet of the West’, Raila tells President Ruto

By Victor Abuso

Posted on Tuesday, 22 November 2022 11:19
Kenya's Raila Odinga in Nairobi, Kenya August 29, 2022. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Veteran politician, and fifth time Presidential candidate Raila Odinga, is claiming that newly-elected President William Ruto is a puppet of the West, working for the interest of foreign powers and not Kenya.

Raila’s remarks were made a day after Ruto’s government announced its intentions to import genetically modified maize to help deal with the growing food scarcity situation in the country.

He further accused Ruto of making the decision to lift the ban on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) without having involved the public, terming the move as a betrayal to Kenyans.

Importation of GMO maize

In early October, the new government lifted a ban on GMO that had been in place for over 10 years, with the aim of dealing with food insecurity brought about by the ongoing drought.

Moses Kuria, the trade and industry cabinet secretary, has announced that Kenya will import 10 million bags of duty-free GMO maize, mainly grown in the US, to mitigate the effects of hunger, which has affected more than 4 million Kenyans.

The announcement comes on the backdrop of a visit to Kenya by Bill Gates, who has pledged an additional $7bn to African countries to help deal with food insecurity.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a major food security donor, has been on the forefront of supporting African countries to cultivate genetically modified foods, despite various emerging concerns.

Ruto’s government responds to criticism

Since signing off on the importation of GMO, Raila has once again become vocal in his criticism of Ruto.

“He [Ruto] is being a puppet, working for foreign nations and their multinationals against our interest as a nation,” Raila said. “He is working to promote foreign biotechnology institutions abroad.”

Additionally, Raila has called on Kenyans to reject GMO foods, describing the importation of GMO maize as a new form of colonialism that will leave Kenya at the mercy of malign foreign nations and greedy corporations.

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua has hit back at Raila telling him that Ruto is not a puppet and has no time for his advice.

He accused Raila of being jealous of the Ruto administration, adding that the president’s engagement with development partners is yielding fruit for Kenyans.

“President William Ruto is nobody’s puppet. He will work with the West, the East and if need be, the north, south and centre,”  said in response to Raila.

Grounds for provocation?

President Ruto appears to be steering relations towards Western countries – a stark contrast with his two predecessors who worked closely with China, which has funded various development projects.

In less than 100 days in power, Ruto has held several talks with Western leaders and envoys:

  • He recently met with Jewel Bronaugh (US deputy secretary of agriculture )in Nairobi
  • He has been in constant communication with Mike Hammer (US special envoy for the Horn of Africa) and Antony J Blinken (US secretary of state).
  • He also met with Rishi Sunak (UK Prime Minister) and signed a deal for a new multi-purpose dams to be built in Kitui and Tharaka Nithi counties.

Kevin Ochol, a Nairobi-based political analyst, says Raila feels that Ruto is engaging too much with Western powers and his supporters now believe that the August polls were influenced.

“With such engagements, Raila will always tell supporters that Ruto is a puppet,” Ochol tells The Africa Report.

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