December 12th 2017

Top Stories / 2017 Elections

Uhuru, Raila clash on 2007 violence casts dark clouds over August polls

“Raila was at the centre of the 2007 chaos in which Kenyans fought but he blamed it on Ruto," he told a gathering of leaders at Nyanturago Stadium in Kisii County. "Yeye ndio aliwasha moto (He is the one who ignited the flames," he said.

By Free Press Reporternewsdesk@kenyafreepress.comWednesday, 22 Mar 2017 20:01 EAT

President Kenyatta waves to Kisii residents at Gusii Stadium during his tour of Kisii County earlier today.

The government and opposition clashed today over the 2007/08 post-election, with President Uhuru Kenyatta and CORD leader Raila Odinga trading words over who was responsible for the mayhem which left more than 1,300 Kenyans killed in one month of carnage and later saw Uhuru and his deputy William Ruto, both then influential leaders, tried for crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, The Netherlands.

The government has been beating war drums and setting the police on a collision course with civilians as the elections near, with Interior cabinet secretary promising heavy deployment in opposition strongholds. Today, the president took the war rhetoric a notch higher, claiming at a public rally in Kisii County that Mr Odinga played a central role in 2007/8 violence.

The opposition read the statement as a prelude to new post-election violence. "We understand the desperation of the President for something to hang on to and reenergise his depressed 2013 voting bloc. We however advise the President to look around his entourage as he visits Kisii and also look into the mirror if he is interested in the truth on the 2007/2008 violence," Mr Odinga said in a statement released from Nairobi.

"We remind the President that the Gusiiland he is visiting is littered with post-election violence victims who are yet to be compensated, including a widow who had only her husband’s skull to burry. We hope the President has had time to ask whether she has been at his rallies and if she believes his story," the former prime minister said, accusing the Kenyatta family of presiding over vast dispossession of poor Kenyans that claimed was the root of election violence.

"The President needs to look no further than the empire his family and associates assembled corruptly using public resources, if he is keen to understand why Kenya stagnated while the Republic of Korea moved forward. In the ill-acquired wealth of the family and associates lies Kenya’s lost years," the statement said, adding, "The Gusii people need no lecture on who initiated the infrastructural transformation in their county. Neither do they need to be told who the high priest of corruption in the country is. They are only too aware."

President Kenyatta’s unexpected statement came on the heels of yesterday’s day-long meeting of heads of security agencies to discuss plans to ensure the country remains secure before and after this year's General Election. The closed-door meeting brought together military, police and intelligence commanders. The main issues on the agenda were scaling up security operations while ensuring the activities of the different security agencies are well coordinated throughout the electioneering period.

Government technocrats have in the past few weeks identified at least 30 hotspots in different parts of the country, all in opposition strongholds, where violence is likely to occur if proper security arrangements are not put in place ahead of the political campaigns. A document reported about the Nation identified election-related crimes that are likely to be reported in those areas. It further listed the incidents that security officers on the ground should look out for as warnings for potential violence.

On top of the list of indicators is “hate speech by politicians and their supporters,” according to the document. After voting, the document continues, likely offences include “refusal to accept results”. The high-level meeting, held at the Defence Staff College in Karen, Nairobi, brought together members of the National Security Advisory Committee. It was attended by Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery, who warned opposition supporters against protesting this year's election results, and his Defence counterpart Raychelle Omamo.

From the military, Chief of Defence Forces Samson Mwathethe led Service Commanders Robert Kibochi (Army), Samuel Thuita (Air Force) and Levi Mghalu (Navy). Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet and the director-general of National Intelligence Service also attended the meeting. Also in attendance were principal secretaries Karanja Kibicho (Interior) and Kirimi Kaberia (Defence).

Speaking on his tour of the larger Gusii region, Mr Kenyatta said Mr Odinga, who rejected the 2007 General Election results, had a hand in the chaos that claimed over 1,133 lives. “Raila was at the centre of the 2007 chaos in which Kenyans fought but he blamed it on Ruto," he told a gathering of leaders at Nyanturago Stadium in Kisii County. "Yeye ndio aliwasha moto (He is the one who ignited the flames," he said.

The President said the Abagusii were among communities that were affected by the violence and internally displaced persons in the region would be compensated next month. The political turmoil uprooted over 650,000 people from their homes and cost businesses billions of shillings.

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