Presidential election candidates on Sunday clashed over what President Uhuru Kenyatta said was Mr Raila Odinga’s earlier plan to precipitate chaos so that foreign powers could step in and force a grand coalition government.
With 17 days to the fresh election ordered by the Supreme Court, the Nation has also seen a contingency plan prepared by Western powers before the August 8 election, to prevent a 2007-type melt down.
The plan was to use the friends of senior politicians to exert pressure against their friends and allies to force a compromise.
On Sunday, Mr Kenyatta said he outmanoeuvred Mr Odinga — whom he claimed expected him to reject the Supreme Court ruling — by agreeing to go back to the electorate.
“We read his thoughts when they were still in the envelope. I was smart and we knew his plans and we said even if we do not accept the decision of the court, we will respect it and go back to seek votes from the people,” said the President.
In a sharp rejoinder, Mr Odinga accused the President of playing a game of “cheap propaganda”.
“That is very cheap propaganda. We are not interested in a nusu mkate government. We don’t want to be begging Uhuru or Ruto daily. Moreover, our chemistry can’t rhyme,” he said by phone.
He challenged the President to ensure that the changes the opposition is demanding are carried out. If the changes are not done, Mr Odinga said, there will be no election.
“We don’t want to be flower girls to Uhuru and Ruto. We want a real contest where we will beat them,” he said.
Nasa have scaled down their campaigns since the Supreme Court rulings, with only a few public rallies.
On Sunday, Mr Odinga observed that “the campaign is over” because the electoral playing field is not level, after their security was withdrawn.
“How can we freely campaign when the President has withdrawn our security?” asked Mr Odinga. “A presidential candidate and his running mate are supposed to have security but President Kenyatta has withdrawn it. He has stripped us naked, and this is against the law.”
The opposition is demanding the sacking of election bosses for the third time in 10 years: The Samuel Kivuitu team was removed after the mismanagement of the 2007 election while Issack Hassan’s was disbanded after street protests by Cord.
Mr Kenyatta argued that only the people can decide who governs them. “The constitution says that the sovereign power belongs to the people. All power is rested in the people and it is the people who shall decide who will lead them.”
The government withdrew officers assigned to Mr Odinga, his running mate Kalonzo Musyoka and co-principal Musalia Mudavadi on the grounds that they could not be accorded security during protests.
Mr Odinga has declared that there will be no election if the electoral commission does not address 12 key issues Nasa has listed as conditions for its participation in the repeat poll.
“They are asking why we are not campaigning? Well, the campaign ended,” said Mr Odinga, who is scheduled to travel to the UK this week, without elaborating. “The playing field is not even.”
Western governments have been pressing both sides to respect the independence of the IEBC and not to impose too many conditions that might hamper its capacity to run the election.
And in case the leaders don’t play ball, it appears that at least at one time, the diplomatic community have prepared a plan to deal with both principals and their key allies.
According to the plan seen by the Nation, Kenya’s international partners will use influential individuals in a twin-pronged strategy to exert pressure on the top leaders to resolve a deadlock. The Nation has seen the list of people viewed as close to President Kenyatta, his deputy William Ruto and their challengers Mr Odinga and Mr Kalonzo Musyoka.
The list has both local and foreign names, the latter falling in the category of friends of the principals.
Sources said some of the local individuals, mostly business and political allies of the principals and their relatives, may face sanctions if their principals do not agree to a compromise.
The list, prepared by researchers ahead of the August 8 election that was nullified by the Supreme Court, includes statesmen, politicians, businessmen, former senior and serving public servants, corporate chieftains, friends and relatives of the top leaders.
The Nation has learned that the list of those to be targeted was prepared by a senior NGO figure with the knowledge of the African Union’s Eminent Personalities.
Former South African President Thabo Mbeki, a prominent member of this group, was in Kenya as an observer in the August 8 election.
The non-Kenyans on the list thought to exert influence on Mr Kenyatta include business people based in the United Arab Emirates.
For Mr Odinga, the list includes a leading South African businessman, a former president and the governor of a state in Nigeria.
Sources at key foreign embassies that sought anonymity said international partners are in talks with different stakeholders with the aim of holding a credible election on October 26. The situation had not reached a point where sanctions are being considered, they added.
Reported by Tim Wanyonyi, Aggrey Mutambo and Bernard Namunane