CSs Kibicho and Mucheru plan to rig poll, claim Ruto allies

Deputy President William Ruto

Deputy President William Ruto, flanked by Kenya Kwanza leaders, addresses football players and fans at PCEA Thirime Primary School in Kiambu on June 1, 2022. His allies have clashed with government officials over claims that Azimio flagbearer Raila Odinga will win the August 9 presidential election by 60 per cent of the vote.

Photo credit: Jeff Angote I Nation Media Group

Allies of Deputy President William Ruto have clashed with government officials over claims that Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party flagbearer Raila Odinga will win the August 9 presidential election by 60 per cent of the vote. They made the claims after Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho and Information and Communications Technology Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru said Mr Odinga was assured of a first-round victory. The officials attributed their views to data collected by the National Intelligence Service (NIS).

NIS falls under the security docket headed by Interior Cabinet Secretary Dr Fred Matiang’i.

“There are people who will make noise for perception creation, which is far from facts. We don’t deal with such perceptions; we deal with facts on the ground and they are saying very different things,” Dr Kibicho told Citizen TV on Tuesday night.

“If you ask me what the data is saying, I will give you as it is and the burden of proof then shifts to you. If you think the data is misleading, then tell me what you have. You cannot criminalise someone for giving you information. If the data favours a particular person, it doesn’t mean that is the person I necessarily support but it’s what the data is saying,” he added.

Martha Karua

Mr Mucheru recently said Mr Odinga’s nomination of Martha Karua as his running mate would seal the deal in the first round.  Dr Ruto’s allies have now warned government officials against dragging critical institutions such as NIS into partisan politics. Belgut MP Nelson Koech, Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata, Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa and city lawyer Ahmednasir Abdullahi dismissed Dr Kibicho and Mr Mucheru as propagandists.

Mr Koech said the NIS, as established under Article 242 and National Intelligence Act Cap 205, has no role in matters beyond security intelligence and counter intelligence and is barred from “political opinion polling”. The National Intelligence Service Act, 2012, prohibits the spy agency from partisan political pursuits. “Unless otherwise provided for under this Act, the service shall not undertake any activity for the purpose of furthering the interests of a political party or political organisation whether within or outside Kenya,” states the Act.

Mr Koech said: “If it is true NIS carried out an opinion poll for Uhuru’s project at the behest of Dr Kibicho and Mr Mucheru, it would amount to a waste of public resources and abuse of office. Even if NIS had done an opinion poll, one would expect to hear from the official spokesperson, who is the Director-General.” Mr Kang’ata dismissed Dr Kibicho and Mr Mucheru’s sentiments as fake news while Mr Barasa said it was “wishful thinking”.

United Democratic Alliance chairman Johnson Muthama said: “NIS is paid by Kenyans irrespective of which side of political organisation they belong to. They are paid to be fair. For Kibicho to stand and say they have information from NIS which was not given to Kenyans and the other side of the political divide, that shows they are planning to rig the election.”

‘Unsubstantiated remarks’

Mr Abdullahi challenged Dr Kibicho and Mr Mucheru to campaign for Mr Odinga instead of making unsubstantiated remarks.

“Elections are not won by issuing silly statements. It’s Wanjiku that has the vote. Dr Kibicho, stop your lies and falsification of NIS reports. We see them when you see. We know it’s a grim reading for you. Pole! ” he tweeted.

At the same time, the DP’s allies have lashed out at President Kenyatta for snubbing the DP during yesterday’s Madaraka Day celebrations, accusing him of turning a national event into an Azimio campaign platform. Speaking during a football tournament in Kikuyu, Kiambu County, the leaders admonished the President for what they said was reducing a national holiday into a platform to settle scores.

Remain friends

Dr Ruto, in a veiled reference to Wednesday’s incident, said political battles should not lead to enmity as “we can compete but still remain friends”.

He said his government will focus on youth empowerment, tapping into their talents and turning them into sources of livelihoods.

While the DP appeared to skirt around the issue, his allies were pointed in their comments.  Ford Kenya party leader Moses Wetang’ula went bare knuckle on President Kenyatta for humiliating his deputy, saying, the Head of State’s gesture amounted to an abuse of authority and a blot on the country’s image to the outside world.

Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro said the President had erred.

“We saw how you mistreated your deputy at Uhuru Gardens. But this is your last day doing that. He will get his chance come August,” he said.  Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria asked Mr Odinga to publicly commit to accept the results if he loses the elections.