NASA leader Raila Odinga reacted to a petition seeking to divide Kenya into two saying that the debate has arisen due to “the political crisis triggered by a disputed presidential poll and years of “ethnic discrimination”.
Mr Odinga made the comments during an interview with the Financial Times in London adding that he did not support the seccession of Western Kenya where he enjoys strong support.
He added that though he does not advocate for the move, “the debate about self-determination is gaining currency”.
“When people become desperate they resort to desperate measures,” he said.
The opposition leader said that the Kikuyu and Kalenjin communities have for too long dominated power in Kenya and the rest of the communities feel disenfranchised.
“We believe in a united Kenya. We do not support secession,” said Mr Odinga. “But you have seen the disintegration of countries in eastern Europe. This debate about self-determination is gaining currency as a result of mis-governance. People feel they have been completely disenfranchised.”
A leading activist, John Githongo, said that there is strong secessionist discussion in the country following the debacle that followed the August 8 election.
“It is a subject of intense debate. You have demonstrators walking around with flags saying ‘People’s Republic of Kenya’,” Mr Githongo said. “As a debate, I can categorically say this has legs.”
He however added that he does not believe that the discussion will pick up any steam as Mr Odinga has not thrown his weight behind it.
David Ndii, a senior adviser to Mr Odinga said on Friday that he did not support the secession push though in August he publicly discussed secession.
“But we’re clearly in a political environment that could start hurtling downhill and it could go in any direction,” he said. “The country is very divided.” Last week the government banned protests in the central business districts of Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu, though Mr Odinga’s supporters came out anyway.