April 30th 2017

Top Stories / National

Jubilee walking back on drugs war gives Joho more ammunition

“If the Jubilee government is serious about the fight against drugs, it has to stop politicizing the war and include everyone”. With zero action so far, many are the Kenyans who are beginning to see that the government rankled Joho for no reason, given the apparent lack of goodwill at the top to fig

By Cecilia Karanjackaranja@kenyafreepress.comThursday, 09 Feb 2017 08:45 EAT

Mr Joho at the Tuesday press conference.

The recently-launched war against drugs has apparently died, judging by muted news from Mombasa where President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto had promised to crack down on suspected drug dealers. After top government officials issued repeated threats to arrest drug dealers, Mombasa governor Hassan Joho (who has been rumoured to deal in drugs) responded Tuesday to the claims and dared the Jubilee government to arrest him.

After last week’s extradition of Akasha brothers to the United States where they are to face charges of drug trafficking, the government stated that it had launched a crackdown on top politicians who are allegedly involved in the trade. Many saw the threats as being aimed at the governor, who has been previously linked to drug trade. The development, however, led to criticisms that senior leaders were politicising the drug war.

On Monday, while speaking in Mombasa, DP Ruto lent further credence to the fears of political motive in the new anti-drug war when he promised that suspected drug dealers would be arrested forthwith. Mr Joho responded to the DP's assertions at a press conference on Tuesday where, speaking in his now characteristic style, he addressed President Kenyatta and Mr Ruto personally.

"Jubilee should first clear their house first before coming here to talk about drugs. This is just for campaigning and nothing else,” he said, claiming that Jubilee leaders were were politicizing the war on drugs. Mr Joho laughed the claims that he was under investigation and blamed the government for linking him to illegal business, adding that the allegations will not intimidate him.

"I am not aware that I am being probed for drugs. How do you give a bank robber notice? If you know barons why don't you arrest them?" asked Joho, who said that Mombasa local leaders have done their best in fight against drugs in the county. “If the Jubilee government is serious about the fight against drugs, it has to stop politicizing the war and include everyone”.

After nearly a week of drama, so far, not even a low-key drug peddler, many of who operate openly in the coastal town, has been apprehended. With such lethargy, many are the Kenyans who are beginning to see that the government rankled Joho for no reason, given the apparent lack of goodwill at the top to fight drugs.

Was the government intimidated by Mr Joho? Does the government have any evidence linking any suspect to the trade? What of allegations that leaders at the very top are involved in the trade themselves? The government has seemingly shot itself in the foot by embarking on an initiative it wasn't well prepared to see to its logical conclusion.

Paradoxically for a usually politically engaged politician, CORD leader Raila Odinga has been absent from the drugs debate where his voice would be extremely useful. As an elder who is well versed with issues to do with the government, Mr Odinga would do Kenyans a favour by articulating his stand on the withering war.

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