Monday, February 18, 2008



By Jerry Okungu

In the last few weeks prior to Kenya’s last General Elections, I repeatedly predicted that there would be chaos if the elections were rigged in favour of the sitting president. Now it has come to pass as the world has witnessed Kenya going up in smoke as police have brutally shot dead over two hundred rioters! What started as a most peaceful and most hotly contested elections in our history suddenly turned ugly due to the careless pronouncement of one man; the Chairman of Kenya’ Electoral Commission!

Sunday December 30, 2007 will be remembered as one of the saddest days in Kenya’s political history. It was a day living Kenyans would not have envisaged exactly five years ago. Yes, five years to the day, we thought we had said goodbye to political fraud, violent repression and brutal killings of Kenyan citizens by their own governments. We thought all that was now behind us since Moi had left the scene. What we didn’t know was that some among us who had posed as agents of change in 2002 would actually be more brutally evil than Moi more times over.

In more ways than one, December 30, 2007, the day Kibaki was hurriedly sworn in as the President for a second term under the cover of looming darkness, vividly reminded Kenyans of October 20, 1952 when the colonial administration declared a state of emergency and rounded up freedom fighters into detention. Then as this time, a dark cloud hung over this beautiful land. The sheer brutality with which the colonial authorities rounded up peasants, could only be seen to be believed. This time too, as Kibaki surrounded himself with the Chief Justice, Police Commissioner and the Army Chief of Staff to be sworn in office just minutes after he was fraudulently declared winner, the ever brutal Para-military police descended on helpless Kenyans, flushed them out of their slums, whipped and even shot dead a few hundred souls just hours after the ceremony!

Yes, this bloodletting orgy has been a stark reminder of another October 1969 episode when Jomo Kenyatta intentionally went to Kisumu to provoke the Luos after his regime had murdered their political icon; Thomas Joseph Mboya, three months earlier. Then as this time again, hundreds were left dead in Kisumu before Kenyatta declared a curfew on Nyanza Province and locked up all its political leaders.

However, unlike in 1952 and 1969 when these curfews and killings were restricted either to Central Province or Nyanza, this time round, Kibaki’s regime has to contend with at least five provinces. The fraudulent manner in which the regime rigged the presidential elections was as uncivilized as it lacked finesse. Because of this, it triggered off spontaneous protests in Nairobi, Rift Valley, Nyanza, Western and Coast provinces that had learnt of the real results over news networks anyway!. Now the Police must quell the riots on five volatile fronts.

The truth of the matter is that the plot to rig elections started almost two years ago when Kibaki’s government lost the referendum in November 2007. It was elaborately planned to take place at every stage of the process. The only mistake the regime made was to have had loose tongues in its midst that let the cat out of the bag. Again, it also included known criminals in its midst to stop one candidate in his tracks. That candidate was Raila Odinga who posed the greatest challenge to the Kibaki reelection. Here are a few strategies they employed to achieve this fete:

First, Kibaki violated the 1997 Inter-parliamentary Political Parties Group Accord that compelled the President to consult all political parties in Parliament before appointing Commissioners of the ECK. This IPPG Accord worked very well under Moi in 1997 and 2002, however, when the terms of most commissioners expired in 2007 under Kibaki, he saw no need to consult political parties. He arbitrarily replaced them with his cronies, including the ECK vice chairman who would have been appointed Chairman. Had the political parties and the international community not protested loudly, even the current chairman who has turned out to be a disgrace would have been replaced on December 3, 2007.

The elaborate plans to alter voters’ registers, voting centers and even change constituency boundaries at the last minute were indications that all was not well. When all seemed to be failing and all opinion polls were showing that ODM’s Raila Odinga would win, they planted known criminals to buy votes not only to rig out Raila Odinga in Langata but also his fellow Pentagon members in Rift Valley, Western and Coast Provinces. When that also seemed to fail, they recruited 3000 administration police into the electoral exercise to buy votes and where possible disrupt elections in ODM strongholds. The vigilance of ordinary Kenyans thwarted these schemes leaving them with the only plot; to rig the elections at the ECK Secretariat! This they did at the cost of hundreds of lives lost and billions of shillings going up in smoke!

Is this the kind of democracy we expect from a country that has gone through the African Peer Review Mechanism and a senior member of the EAC?