Wednesday, April 6, 2016
How Odinga and Magufuli’s friendship strengthened
FORMER Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who spent last weekend as a guest of President John Magufuli in his Chato district, Geita region home village has explained the origin of the special friendship between the two leaders. Odinga, accompanied by his wife and daughter, arrived in Magufuli's home village by helicopter on Saturday as special guests of the president who was on a short holiday. They were welcomed by Magufuli and his wife, becoming the first official visitors to the president’s home village since he assumed office. The apparent close ties between the two have become a source of concern in some Kenyan quarters given that he is the leader of the country’s main opposition Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) party.
On Sunday, Magufuli and Odinga together attended a church service in Chato where the former Kenyan premier explained how they became special friends. "Raila said the friendship began way back when President Magufuli was appointed as minister for works and Raila served in the same capacity in Kenya. Magufuli was appointed deputy works minister as a junior member of parliament in 1995. and became a full minister in 2000. Raila, on the other hand, served as Kenya's minister for roads, public works and housing from 2003 to 2005. "While serving as ministers of works for their respective countries, Magufuli and Raila exchanged experiences frequently and cooperated in joint construction projects. Odinga urged East African Community (EAC) member states to strengthen regional integration and praised the strong historical bilateral relations between Tanzania and Kenya. During a visit to Nairobi in October 2015, Tanzanian ex-president Jakaya Kikwete sought to allay fears in Kenya's ruling Jubilee coalition that Magufuli would work closer with the CORD opposition due to his personal friendship with Odinga. More recently, a dispute over the route of a proposed crude oil pipeline from Uganda to the Indian Ocean has been threatening to strain relations between Tanzania and Kenya, which are both keen on the project. Tanzania is the preferred route of the pipeline because it offers the safest and cost-effective option, but Kenya is vigorously pushing to snatch the project from Tanzania.