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Ruto murder claim could provide cover to those with sinister motive

Sunday July 7 2019

Cabinet Secretaries from Mt Kenya

Cabinet Secretaries (from left) Sicily Kariuki, Joe Mucheru and Peter Munya at the DCI headquarters on June 24, 2019. They denied alleged plot to eliminate DP William Ruto. PHOTO | MARY WAMBUI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

KWENDO OPANGA
By KWENDO OPANGA
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For the first time, ministers were fingered in a murder plot against Kenya's Number Two. However, claims of assassination plots are so commonplace they could sanitise a heinous political weapon.

Yet assassinations are clinical and final. The target is alive now and gone forever the next minute. Assassinations polarise politics, poison relations, harden positions and traumatise the affected for a long time.

ESCAPE BLAME

Deputy President William Ruto has spent millions, travelled vast distances, held many conversations and smiled thousands of times wooing Mt Kenya's millions of voters.

But this may have been undone by fingering just four from there as plotting his murder.

But, increasingly, politicians use the evil power of assassination to win sympathy; recover from blunders; divert attention from uncomfortable situations and to shore up their political stock.

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Here's the danger. When a politician in real trouble of being killed cries for help, most will think he is crying wolf.

Second, somebody could take advantage of such a situation, kill and escape secure in the knowledge that blame will be directed elsewhere. Let me explain elsewhere.

Because four ministers were named as conspirators, that focused attention on the Cabinet, Central and Mt Kenya regions and ministers thought to be in President Kenyatta's column.

This also roped in President's newfound ally Raila Odinga, his Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) and its MPs. But, crucially, it diverted attention away from the Rift Valley where an opponent could cash in and pull the trigger.

Elsewhere could also refer to the reason for the killing. In Dr Ruto's case most thought politics, especially a move to take him out of the 2022 equation or put to an end any thoughts of a Ruto presidency instantly.

But a party aggrieved over land could cash in. Sorry, I digress. Let's return to frequency of claims of assassination plots.

In March, 2004, some 10 Members of Parliament claimed that the Cabinet was planning to kill then Roads minister Raila Odinga.

ALLEGATIONS

In April, 2012 a tearful Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo told a funeral in Bondo of a plot to assassinate then Prime Minister Raila Odinga. In May, 2014 Nominated MP Oburu Odinga told a news conference that East African Community leaders were plotting to kill Mr Odinga.

In May 2016, as Mr Odinga led protests against the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, the ODM leader claimed that his vehicle had been shot at by the police. Police denied the claim. In November 2017, police denied they had shot at Mr Odinga's car during demonstrations and called the allegations propaganda by the National Super Alliance and in January 2018, after the swearing in of Mr Odinga as the people's president, unknown people petrol-bombed former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka's home in what was said to have been an assassination attempt.

What would killing Mr Odinga have achieved in 2004? Zero. He had fallen out with President Kibaki over the unfulfilled pre-election seat-sharing MoU. He was agitating for reform of the Constitution to which President Kibaki was not opposed.

In 2012, Mr Odinga was PM so who would go for one so highly placed? A General Election was round the corner and he was going for the presidency. A tired Kibaki could not wait to go home but others dreaded an Odinga presidency.

DESPERATE WAY

In 2014 and 2016, Mr Odinga had transformed into a one-person opposition as he took on the government on corruption and championed the cause for free elections.

A thorn in the flesh and moral pinprick he was, he was nowhere near toppling the government.

In 2017, he rejected presidential poll results and boycotted a repeat poll before calling for a popular resistance against a government he dismissed as illegitimate. But his was not a Museveni-esque war and he was holding secret talks with President Kenyatta.

Is somebody always out to take him out? Suffice to say, nobody has ever been arraigned for planning to kill him. Only Mr Midiwo linked somebody (Foreign minister Sam Ongeri) to a death plot but gave no evidence. Mr Musyoka's home was petrol-bombed soon after he and two others absented themselves from Mr Odinga's controversial swearing in.

His reputation as a leader was at its nadir. He and two others were branded cowards. What a desperate way to reclaim a reputation.

No, there was no ministerial plot to assassinate the DP though he is being killed politically. Yes, ODM's account at the bank of assassination claims is overdrawn.

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