Museveni Odinga last met in May this year at State House, Entebbe

Museveni, Odinga last met in May this year at State House, Entebbe


On Monday, 15 August, 2022, President Yoweri Museveni spent the whole afternoon and evening at State House, Entebbe, keenly monitoring on television and telephone the tallying of presidential election results in Kenya.

Sources say, the Cabinet meeting also ended earlier than usual to allow ministers time to follow the final lap.

By 6pm, Museveni was glued to his TV set watching the electoral boss of Kenya, Wafula Chebukati announcing the final outcome. He declared William Ruto as the winner with 7,176,141 votes (50.49%) against Raila Odinga’s 6,942,930 votes (48.85%).

The moment Chebukati pronounced Ruto as the president-elect; Museveni threw his hands in the air as he smiled. He remained in his seat and listened to the victory speech which Ruto made shortly at the Bomas Hall. The ministers also all burst into celebrations, once Ruto was announced winner. According to State House sources, celebrations went up to 10pm.

Later on that evening, Museveni telephoned Ruto and heartily congratulated him. On the following day, Museveni sent to him a written congratulatory message in which he acknowledged telephoning Ruto the previous night.

Knowledgeable sources intimated to us that Odinga had attempted to sway Museveni to his side long before the presidential campaigns of 2022, but differences in opinion could not allow that.

Like they always say ‘you can forgive but not forget’, several private and public meetings have taken place between Museveni and Odinga from 2010 up to the last one in May this year.

According to well-placed sources, for Odinga all these meetings were to do with his political maneuvers at home. However, Museveni looked at a wider picture of advancing regional and continental agenda through East African Community, African Union and other multilateral platforms where he is willing to enlighten anyone into that vision including Odinga.

In the run up to the 2011 elections, Odinga attended his presidential campaign rally. He had also earlier been the chief fundraiser at Busoga University.

Also in November 2011, Odinga reportedly had talks with President Museveni at David Hotel in Jerusalem, Israel. The talks were brokered by Israeli ambassador to Kenya, Gil Haskel. The talks aimed at reconciling the two men. At the time, Odinga was the prime minister of Kenya.

Odinga visited Museveni at State House, Entebbe, in March 2012. Before that, Odinga invited Museveni to his home area of Kisumu on February 18, 2012. The two leaders graced the fundraising ceremony for Great Lakes University Education Trust Fund.

The most recent meeting was in May this year at State House, Entebbe.

In spite of those initiatives, genuine friendship between Museveni and Odinga has failed to work out, according to well-placed sources.

But why?


President Museveni and Odinga reportedly sharply disagreed on the issue of the removal of Libyan leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi in 2011

President Museveni and Odinga reportedly sharply disagreed on the issue of the removal of Libyan leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Museveni was opposed to the use of military approach by the US, Britain and France and NATO in general, but Odinga reportedly supported the approach.

Odinga made his opinion public when he met the then United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-Moon in Nairobi in March 2011. He said that Gaddafi’s actions against his people were totally unacceptable. He, therefore, applauded the airstrikes which under a United Nations resolution approved a no-fly zone over Libya in a bid to protect civilians from Gaddafi’s forces who were fighting rebels.

Odinga annoyed Museveni when a toppled Gaddafi went into hiding. Odinga mockingly appealed to him to come out of hiding by stating, “A good general should know when the game is up. The war is over and Mr. Gaddafi’s side has lost. He should do the honourable thing now and let the people of Libya go. You can only govern people with their consent and Libyans have clearly shown that they want to move on from the Gaddafi era.”


The relationship between Museveni and Odinga also became sour following the 2015 meeting which Odinga brokered between former prime minister of Uganda, Amama Mbabazi and Kizza Besigye.

At the time, Mbabazi and Museveni had fallen out, and Mbabazi had even declared his presidential bid against Museveni in 2016. On the other hand, Besigye was a known perennial opponent of President Museveni in three presidential contests. He was also set to contest against Museveni again in 2016.

In an effort aimed at convincing Besigye and Mbabazi to form a unified force against Museveni, Odinga hosted them at his lavish Karen residence in Nairobi. Also invited were the other opposition politicians; Ambassador Olara Otunnu, Mathias Nsubuga (RIP) and Wasswa Biriggwa. In a series of meetings, Odinga urged them to unite as the only sure way of defeating Museveni.


Whereas the two have been meeting, sources say, Odinga had never forgiven Museveni for being the first head of state to congratulate the former’s nemesis, President Mwai Kibaki, in the aftermath of Kenya’s 2007 presidential elections.


Museveni chats with Odinga in this undated photo

The other disagreement between Museveni and Odinga was over the indictment of Ruto and President Uhuru Kenyatta by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2008.

Odinga who had lost the presidential election of 2007 supported the trial of Ruto and Kenyatta in the ICC court in Hague, but Museveni was reportedly of the contrary opinion. He wanted a deferral of the cases. If anything, Museveni wanted a local tribunal to try Ruto and Kenyatta.

Museveni even castigated ICC publicly in 2013 by calling it arrogant and shallow. He said; “Many African countries supported the setting up of the ICC because we abhor impunity. Our advice to them is from very capable actors who know what they are doing and saying. Kenya is recovering. Let her recover. We know the origin of past mistakes. The ICC way is not the right one to handle those mistakes.”

Museveni had also attacked the same court at the swearing in of Kenyatta as the president. He even threatened to move a motion at the African Union calling for the African countries to pull out of the Rome Statute which established the ICC.

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