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No, photo doesn't show opposition leader Raila Odinga representing Kenya in the UK as peace talks continue

IN SHORT: Raila Odinga was in the UK for a week in August 2023 for business and personal reasons. However, a photograph purporting to show him in a bilateral meeting was taken in 2022.

A photo that appears to show Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga in a bilateral meeting with a senior British politician has attracted social media attention in Kenya. 

The caption reads: “Hon. Raila today held a bilateral meeting with James Heapay the UK minister for Armed Forces in London UK.”

The claim was made in a series of Facebook posts in August 2023, including here, here, here, here and here

The photo was posted on social media days after local media reported that the Kenyan opposition leader was in the UK for “business and relaxation”.

Some of the posts also claimed that Odinga had been given a job by president William Ruto as “UK special envoy”, which was why he had a bilateral meeting with minister James Heappey.

A bilateral meeting is a discussion between two countries. In this case, Odinga is representing Kenya. Given that Odinga is in closely watched talks with Ruto following a disputed election in August 2022, such a development would suggest that the opposition leader is already working with the government.

But did Odinga meet with Heappey, the UK's minister of state for the armed forces, during his visit there in 2023? We checked.


Photo taken in 2022

A reverse image search revealed that this photo first appeared online on 15 March 2022, months before the general elections.

It shows Odinga meeting the British minister to discuss security.

The photos and agenda for the meeting were posted on Odinga's Facebook page.

“The UK has been one of Kenya's most loyal and dependable defense and security partners. We had a robust discussion on matters appertaining to security with a view of enhancing our ties moving into the future with their Minister for the Armed Forces James Heappey,” the caption reads.

The visit was also reported by local media here and here.

The photo is old and has nothing to do with Odinga's 2023 UK trip.

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