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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Former Kenyan PM: Please Lift Travel Advisories

Raila Odinga, former prime minister of Kenya, at Here & Now studios. (Robin Lubbock/Here & Now)

Raila Odinga, former prime minister of Kenya, at Here & Now studios. (Robin Lubbock/Here & Now)

Former Kenyan prime minister Raila Odinga says Kenya’s allies like the U.S. should lift travel advisories to help his country as it battles terrorists.

Tourism, a key industry for Kenya, has declined sharply since the September attack by the Islamist militant group al-Shabab on a high-end mall in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

“We have pleaded and appealed to our friends not to scare off their citizens from coming to Kenya, because then you’re hurting the victim, rather than the culprit,” Odinga told Here & Now‘s Jeremy Hobson. “We don’t think Kenya is less safe today than Israel or Egypt.”

“Kenyans have said we really don’t need aid, we need more trade and investment in our country.”

At least 67 people died in the attack on the Westgate Mall, which lasted over three days. There are now investigations into both the effectiveness and behavior of Kenyan security forces.

Al-Shabab has targeted Kenya in retaliation for Kenyan troops fighting the group in its home base in Somalia.

Odinga said Kenya went to fight in Somalia because militants were already attacking Kenya.

“Al-Shabab is on the run, but as we know in Africa, a wounded buffalo is more dangerous than a whole one,” Odinga said.

Odinga says Kenya is doing well for itself, compared to other African countries, and has mineral and natural resources to offer to American and international companies.

“Kenya has made several strides, and Kenyans have said we really don’t need aid, we need more trade and investment in our country,” Odinga said. “We have removed a lot of impediments which have been there which had been scaring off investors.”

On whether or not he will run for office again, Odinga says he hasn’t made up his mind yet, hoping to let the current administration do its work without the specter of a campaign looming. He also says he is curious to see who else will want to run.

“I will also look if there are younger people who are keen and interested, to see if there is somebody I could support,” he said. “I have not retired, but yet I have not said that I’m going to run for the elections next time around.”

Odinga was visiting the U.S. and spoke at the African Presidential Center at Boston University.


  • Raila Odinga, former Kenyan prime minister (2008-2013) and two time candidate for president. He tweets @RailaOdinga.

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