Kenya First Family’s fury over Muite claims

Tuesday March 3 2009

President Kibaki during the press conference at State House. Photo/MICHAEL MUTE

President Kibaki during the press conference at State House. Photo/MICHAEL MUTE 

By BERNARD NAMUNANE and NJERI RUGENE

An angry President Kibaki has threatened to take legal action against anybody who implied that he has a second family.

The President, who appeared totally disgusted, called a rare press conference at State House on Tuesday to state clearly that he had only one wife—First Lady Lucy Kibaki— and four children.

President Kibaki also explained that his relatives were well known and appealed to the public to keep a blind ear to the allegations. He then said he had been driven to the point of restating his marital status due to statements that were made by former Kabete MP on Monday.

Mr Muite remarked that the government ordered a raid on the Standard Group three years ago to stop it from publishing a story on the composition of the President’s family.

Accused media

With Mrs Kibaki standing on his right handside, the President accused the media of continuously questioning his marital status inspite of coming out publicly twice on his family.

“You know, I know and everyone knows that I am married and I only have one wife. And everyone..the media keep reporting that I have another one wife or wives. I have only one wife and I don’t have any other,” he said.

He stated the repetition had pushed him to the wall and threatened to take any person who will make any allegations on his family to court. In a rare show, the President admitted that he was angered by the claims.

“I have gotten in this foul mood after listening to some statements that were made yesterday, the other day or even recently. I want to state that anyone who is bent on that course will see me in court or wherever he will see me. There is no other way,” he warned.

There was anxiety in newsrooms when State House called in the afternoon to invite journalists to a press conference by the President. Scores of reporters and camera men turned up—apparently the foreign media were left out— and were ushered to the the press area on the well manicured State House lawns.

They were kept waiting for more than 45 minutes. In between Presidential Press Services director Isaiah Kabira came in to say the press conference will begin at 4.30 pm.

However, at 4.45 pm, the normally stoic Head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura found the courtesy to excuse the President for the delay. “We are sorry to have kept you,” he said, a wry smile on his face and dashed back to the main building to come back with the President in the company of the First Lady.

President Kibaki, whose face showed painful anger, started his address by introducing the First Lady. In a deep tone that could have been laced with anger, he said: “This is my wife Lucy, and I want to say something that I hold dear in my heart to you. I only have one wife, my dear Lucy and four children. You know their names and if you don’t know you can ask me. I will tell you.”

He stated that lies were being told about his family and wondered why people were spreading falsehoods. He challenged the media to tell the public the truth. He said his family will not be diverted by the allegations that were flying around.

“I don’t know why people are spreading lies about me because I am a genuine person who doesn’t tell lies. It doesn’t help anybody to tell lies,” he said.

Reason for raid

On Tuesday, Mr Muite claimed the information about the alleged reason for the Standard raid was given by Mr John Michuki, who was Security minister when he appeared before the Parliamentary Committee on Administration and Legal Affairs which he chaired.

Asked about the basis of the allegations Tuesday, President Kibaki said: I don’t know the reason; I don’t the genesis. That is precisely the reason I don’t understand why anybody would continue to say falsehoods,” he said.

It was at this time that First Lady Lucy intervened and challenged reporters to ask questions: “ Ask questions now so that from today you stop writing those things.”

She then took over the press conference and in a tearful way expressed the pain the allegations has caused the First Family.

“They have been tormenting us; we are partners for long,” she said.

Mrs Kibaki singled out KTN and expressed her disgust at the station for allowing Mr Muite to speak of “falsehoods” on the First Family in the presence of foreign diplomats and international media.

Pointing at the KTN reporter, she said: “You are from KTN? Last night I nearly came to your offices to attack you the same way I did to Nation. You allow foreign diplomats, international journalists, name them listen to somebody called Muite tell lies. The President may not take him to court but I and my family will take him to court. Tell him that.”