‘Reds’ campaign brought together former foes

Sunday August 8 2010

It would have been difficult to envisage an issue that would bring Mr Moi (right) and the former Subukia MP. Photos/FILE

It would have been difficult to envisage an issue that would bring Mr Moi (right) and the former Subukia MP. Photos/FILE 

By JACOB NG’ETICH

Strange political bed fellows united in their bid to pass or reject the new constitution.

Former President Daniel arap Moi, for instance, brought some of his old political foes on his side as he campaigned for the rejection of the new constitution. Take former firebrand and rabid Moi critic Koigi wa Wamwere, for example.

It would have been difficult to envisage an issue that would bring Mr Moi and the former Subukia MP. Mr Wamwere fled into exile in the 1980s as Mr Moi’s autocratic Kanu regime tightened the screws against its critics.

Then in 1990 he suddenly reappeared in Nairobi courtesy of the Kenyan intelligence who reportedly abducted him during a visit to Uganda. He was charged with treason and held at the Kamiti Maximum Security Prison.

In 1995, Mr Wamwere was back on the wrong side of the Moi regime. He was arrested on what was seen as fabricated charge of robbery with violence and was sentenced to four years in jail only being released in 1996 on health grounds.

During the campaigns, Mr Wamwere was at pains to explain the strange alliance with Mr Moi, even denying allegations that he had been given money or land by the former president. He maintained that it was the issues of contention in the new law that brought him together with his former tormentor.

The proposed constitution, he said, promotes negative ethnicity, balkanising the country into tribal based counties. The land chapter which talks about historical injustices, he argued is a recipe for chaos.

“We also wanted a constitution that would protect us against perennial ethnic conflicts. However, with negative ethnicity as the ideology of the new constitution, majimbo and historical land injustices, Kenyans cannot escape ethnic cleansing and wars,” he says.

Mr Moi also denied giving money to people like Mr Wamwere to oppose the new law. Another alliance was between Higher Education Minister William Ruto, Mr Moi and his son Gideon.

The three fell out in the run up to the 2007 General Election when the senior Moi supported President Kibaki’s PNU while Mr Ruto went with the Raila Odinga led Orange Democratic Movement. His alliance with Mr Odinga whom Mr Moi seemed to loath for breaking up Kanu and destroying Moi’s 2002 succession plan when he quit the party to join Kibaki in Narc.

Mr Ruto did not help things much when he led Kalenjins in the Rift Valley to abandon Kanu in droves and break the stranglehold of the Mois in a wave that saw even Gideon losing the Baringo Central seat he inherited from his father. Since then the two Mois have treated Mr Ruto with near contempt until their shared loathing of the proposed law brought them together.

Sources say the three big players in Rift Valley politics met separately and decided to bury their differences in order to fight the new law. This was brought about especially by their opposition to the chapter on land which many in the province still think will target them.