Odinga said elections should be preceded by reforms to create an enabling environment for a free and fair ballot. He was speaking in Bulawayo, the country’s second largest city where he officially opened the congress of the main faction of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
Odinga told Tsvangirai to move quickly to resolve its democratic challenges. He also said Zimbabwe should take its rightful place as a centre for Southern African economic growth.
“You will have to dig deep into your reservoirs of tolerance and compromise to ensure that this happens, for the alternative would serve neither the MDC nor its partner in government,” said Odinga who has shared power with Mwai Kibaki.
When he arrived in Zimbabwe earlier, Odinga had met Zimbabwe’s President behind closed doors for over an hour. The standard reported that the two leaders discussed the country’s constitutional reforms and many other issues. Odinga’s visit to Zimbabwe has dispelled rumours that he is not welcome in the country and Mugabe is reported to have told him that he may stay longer. In fact, Mugabe urged the Kenyan Prime Minister to share Kenya’s experiences in constitutional reforms.
The state owned Herald News Paper described Odinga as the “Merchant of Violence”.
Odinga had in 2008 called for the exit of Mugabe during a BBC interview and this angered Mugabe’s sympathisers. According to Capital News, talks between the two are said to have bordered on similarities such as the history such as the struggle for the liberation of Africa, the continent’s place in world politics, reforms in the two countries and global affairs, touching on international trade and events in North Africa and the Middle East.
Mugabe expressed great interest in the political developments in Kenya particularly in the unveiling of the constitution.