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How President Uhuru neutralised Opposition leaders over saba saba

Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetang'ula.

Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetang’ula.

Details have emerged of how President Uhuru Kenyatta and his administration plotted to neutralize the Opposition far ahead of the Saba Saba rally.

The President was fully briefed on everything that was going on on a daily basis – and he directed his officials how to proceed as the Opposition insisted on calls for national dialogue.

The Star learnt yesterday that there were high-level meetings both at State House and at Harambee House where government officials scrutinized every statement made by Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetang’ula.

Top security chiefs led by Interior minister Joseph ole Lenku, his PS Mutea Iringo, KDF boss Julius Karangi, National Intelligence Service chief Michael Gichangi, Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo and Head of the Public Service Joseph Kinyua held numerous meetings to plan a response.

“We were not sure of what Raila was planning and so we left nothing to chance, especially because there were all manner of rumours flying around,” said a member of the National Security Advisory Council.

NSAC also deployed a 24-hour surveillance strategy on the three Cord principals and their confidants to ensure that the Government knew every move the Opposition leaders made, who they were talking to, and the content of their discussions.

The President and his team made a decision to allow Cord to hold its rallies across the country and security was provided. At the same time, Jubilee leaders were stopped from conducting any parallel rallies.

“We decided that holding parallel rallies or even locking Cord out of venues in Nairobi was a bad idea. We also reached out to the organizers of the rally. That is why you saw the IG meeting Orengo and Muthama ahead of the rally.

President Kenyatta and the NSAC team also decided that they would deploy thousands of armed uniformed and plainclothes police officers in Nairobi from Sunday night to ensure that the city was safe.

The Government, through the Communications Authority, was also counseled to remind the media, especially the television stations, of their obligations according to the law.

CCK issued an advert on Monday warning media houses that they would lose their frequencies if they aired hate speech. A UK-based global analysis and advisory firm has said that Cord has failed to act as an effective opposition to the Jubilee Government.

Oxford Analytica, the international consulting firm that provides strategic analyses of world events and whose corporate slogan is “Global Analysis and Advisory”, and has offices in Oxford, New York and Paris, said the Opposition’s failure has added to the despair of Kenyans.

In its “Saba Saba Day” brief seen by the Star, the firm said Cord’s Uhuru Park rally was intended to “revive Cord’s fortunes and capture rising discontent with the Jubilee government”.

The firm said if the rally failed to achieve its objective, Cord leader Raila Odinga would come under pressure to quit his position. “Poor leadership, chaotic organization and a confused agenda will more likely continue to limit Cord’s ability to influence political debate,” it said.

The analysis, published on the firm’s website, said the outcome of Monday’s rally would be “an important indicator for the near- to medium-term trajectory for Kenyan politics and stability”.

Oxford Analytica predicted that if the rally were to appear to represent a groundswell of support for the Opposition, the Jubilee government would heavily respond to it. Police responded through a heavy presence but not a brutal one. From the analysis, therefore, the rally failed.

In the brief, the firm said in the 2013 polls, Cord undermined its credibility through a “chaotic and weak campaign”. Cord’s calls for dissolution of the electoral commission have won little popular sympathy.

“In part, this highlights the power of the ‘peace and stability’ message that guided the ruling Jubilee Alliance into office – sharpened by popular fears of a repeat of the electoral violence of 2007-08,” it said.

Oxford Analytica observed that “popular and party hopes” that new leaders might emerge from the ranks of Cord’s parliamentarians and 23 county governors have proved forlorn. The most prominent Cord Governor, Nairobi’s Evans Kidero, was rejected by Raila as his replacement.

“This fits an Africa-wide trend whereby divisions in a losing party typically provoke leadership fatigue and damage the party’s credibility,” the analysts said.

The strategic analysis brief said Raila’s hopes that the symbolism of Saba Saba would enthuse his supporters were misplaced as there were “few common threads” between Saba Sabas of the past and now.

“Opponents of the authoritarian government back then could rely on the support of the churches, civil society and a broad pan-ethnic body of supporters. Today, Cord is far more isolated,” it said.

The experts say Jubilee is not performing well either, and cites insecurity, the high cost of living and the public impression that it is not doing well as examples. The Government has used recent insecurity incidents to discredit the Opposition.

The analysts say Jubilee is further constrained from acting due to the fragility of coalition between President Uhuru and Deputy President William Ruto.

 
– The Star

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