A fresh battle front between the National Super Alliance and Jubilee Party was opened on Tuesday after the main opposition flag bearer, Raila Odinga, dragged the military into an alleged government plot to rig the August elections.
Mr Odinga claimed the Kenya Defence Forces, National Police Service, regional coordinators and county commanders have been mobilised and are being trained at Nairobi’s Embakasi Barracks to help tilt the elections outcome in favour of the Jubilee Party.
But Deputy President William Ruto quickly hit back at the opposition, accusing Nasa leaders of engaging in “unnecessary noise” over elections to scare Kenyans from turning out on August 8.
The KDF and the police also denied the claims, saying they were in training to prepare to maintain peace and ward off any threats during the elections.
Mr Odinga alleged that there was an ongoing training of KDF, police, county commanders and regional coordinators at the Embakasi Barracks to give them skills on how to influence the elections.
“They (the trainings) have every semblance with what was done at the same venue in the lead up to the 2007 General Election in which APs were later dispersed as election officials and poll agents for the Party of National Unity (then President Mwai Kibaki’s party),” Mr Odinga told journalists at his Capitol Hill offices on Tuesday.
He went on: “A series of meetings of officers from the National Intelligence Service have taken place with the sole purpose of coming up with a plan to help Jubilee retain power at all costs, particularly in the event that the courts maintain that results declared at the constituency level are final.”
The claims rekindle the 2007 presidential race in which Mr Odinga lost to President Kibaki when ODM leaders claimed APs and the military were used to not only “guard President Kibaki’s votes” but also to influence the counting of votes and the elections process in the opposition strongholds.
In his testimony before Justice Phillip Waki commission which investigated the cause of the violence that ensued after the elections, Kisumu Senator Anyang’ Nyong'o said “there were massive transfers of Police and APs to ODM strongholds and selected people from central Kenya to assist in affecting the vote manipulations and to violently suppress the attendant protests.”
About 1,133 Kenyans lost their lives and more than 650,000 others were displaced in the violence that resulted after Mr Kibaki was declared the winner.
Mr Odinga alleged that a similar plot was being developed after a High Court ruling — which the electoral agency has appealed against — that presidential election results announced at the constituency level will be final.
He alleged that the meetings are being held in Naivasha, followed by what he said were “frequent consultations under the chairmanship of former Chief of General Staff Julius Waweru Karangi to actualise the plan developed by the National Intelligence Service.”
“Jubilee appears to be putting all its hopes on the old centralised tallying at the Bomas of Kenya that enabled them to doctor and change results.
It is now turning to using Intelligence and security officers to influence the elections,” Mr Odinga, who was accompanied by his chief campaign manager and Nasa co-principal Musalia Mudavadi, said.
He went on: ‘We are inclined to believe that the above activities are meant to subvert the will of the people in the upcoming elections.”
But campaigning in Embakasi, Mr Ruto accused the Opposition of creating “unnecessary noise” around elections to scare people from taking part.
“I hear them claim we want to rig. I want them to be ready, as everyone else is, for elections,” he told a rally at Tassia Grounds.
“They always complain. They complained about (IEBC) commissioners.
They complained about the Biometric Voter Registration system.
They complained about ballot papers and now they are saying the military is helping us to rig,” he said.
“They have no agenda to sell. They have no track record and they know they cannot win an election so they keep creating excuses.”
Mr Ruto said the opposition was afraid to compete fairly.
“They should leave our military out of this. We have a professional military and the people who are known to drag the military into their power struggles are well known. They should not drag the rest of us into it.”
Interior ministry spokesman Mwenda Njoka clarified that the multi-agency coordination committee was created to ensure that government activities are harmonised.
“In case of crisis we do it very well by ensuring the different units works seamlessly and in a coordinated manner,” Mr Njoka said.
Also taking part in the training are officers of Nairobi Fire brigade, National Disaster Operations Centre and other non-governmental organisations such as St John Ambulance, because they are involved in emergency services.
NOTHING TO HIDE
“Now that the media was invited at Embakasi on Monday shows there is nothing to hide.
The idea was inspired by past experience in 2007 and 2013.
In the former there was the post-election violence and in the latter there was the Westgate terrorist attack where the military and police were uncoordinated,” said Mr Njoka.
He added that the media would be invited to field questions when the training ends on Friday.
In Kakamega, County Commissioner Kang’ethe Thuku dismissed Mr Odinga’s claims that more than 100 military officers had been deployed to the region to facilitate rigging.
“There is nothing like a military camp in Kakamega. I’m shocked by the allegations and Mr Odinga should get his facts right before rushing to make such allegations in the media,” said Mr Thuku.
Reports by Patrick Lang’at, Aggrey Mutambo, Fred Mukinda and Benson Amadala