Only an insecure regime would react with fury and violence

Tuesday December 5 2017

Umoja Nasa demos

A woman raises her hands as anti-riot police flush out Nasa supporters who had taken cover in a kiosk Umoja to escape teargas during demonstrations on November 28, 2017. PHOTO | TONY KARUMBA | AFP 

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I have it in mind to celebrate Jamhuri Day by gathering my friends, relatives and cronies at Burma Market, Nairobi, to swear me in as their president.

I guess traders, passers-by and idle gawkers will laugh me out of the market. Anyway, the ‘swearing-in’ ceremony should absolutely be the end of the matter. Everybody will have a good laugh and go home.

But then this is Kenya. The police will probably be directed to arrest and throw the book at me. I could be charged with treason, imagining, encompassing or devising the death or deposition of the President, taking illegal oaths, unlawful assembly, behaving in a manner likely to cause a breach of the peace, or any other offences the political pawns in the law and order establishment can concoct.

In the meantime, a vacuous social media brigade will be mobilised for a coordinated assault on this latest challenge to the government.

This typical reaction exposes not just the drift towards totalitarianism, but also the insecurities that afflict the Jubilee government.


President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto were re-elected at the repeat election of October 26, and last week duly took oath of office, albeit facing some legitimacy questions.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga’s National Super Alliance has refused to recognise Mr Kenyatta’s presidency, and announced a raft of measures to force through yet another election in six months.

They are probably fortified in their improbable quest because the Jubilee leadership does not display the confidence of a government that enjoys legitimacy.

It is only a hesitant, nervous, and insecure government that finds it necessary to keep proclaiming its tigretude.

It is a government unsure of itself that reacts with venom to the slightest challenge, misusing the security forces to unleash brutality on the citizens, including shooting innocent children.


The bizarre lengths to which a compromised State security machinery will go was on display last week on the day Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto were being sworn-in at Kasarani Stadium, Nairobi.

Apart from tear-gassing Mr Odinga’s planned assembly a few kilometres down the road, somebody in authority hit upon the ingenious idea of dumping truckloads of human shit on the grounds where Nasa was supposed to gather.

As if that was not enough, a whole armoured personnel carrier was deployed to prevent Dagoretti South MP Simba Arati leaving his residence.

That was the same day security officers in a ‘soft-skinned’ vehicle were ambushed and killed by Al-Shabaab terrorists in Lamu! Put two and two together.  

Now borrowing from the repressive Kanu one-party State, the regime has resorted to arresting opposition activists on trumped-up charges.

One can thus predict how the security apparatchik and the hired social media propaganda brigade will react as Mr Odinga gets set for be sworn in as the ‘People’s President’.

It does not need a lawyer to tell you that Mr Odinga breaks absolutely no law in having himself declared as such.


He can go through a mock swearing-in, but that will be of no more legal or security implications than the stunt I might pull at Burma Market.

It may be of huge symbolic and political value to Mr Odinga’s cohorts, but it will not amount to an illegal power-grab that should have President Kenyatta quacking in his boots at State House.

The stunt only exposes Mr Odinga’s growing desperation as he pushes to remain relevant after the miscalculation of sitting out the repeat poll and gifting Mr Kenyatta free passage to a second term.

A ‘People’s President’ emerges on the strength of popular support, and need not go through some ceremony of no legal validity.


When boxing legend Mohammed Ali was stripped of the world heavyweight boxing championship title after defying conscription for the Vietnam War, he did not need to go through any dubious crowning to be recognised as the ‘People’s Champ’. He simply was. 

But if Mr Odinga insists on a ceremony that is his right and should not be interfered with.

The opposition will be sure to ramp up agitation in the coming weeks and months, and will adopt increasingly provocative maneuvers. It will do so knowing that a confused and insecure administration will react in the only way it knows: Police brutality. There can only be one winner.

Email:[email protected] Twitter: @MachariaGaitho