William Ruto, Fred Matiang’i trade barbs on vote fraud

Fred Matiang'i

DCI Director General George Kinoti, Interior CS Fred Matiangi and PS Interior Karanja Kibicho arrive at the ATPC Embakasi for a media briefing on security ahead of Tuesdays general election.

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i has accused Deputy President William Ruto of making baseless claims about the government planning to disrupt the General Election on Tuesday.

And yesterday, the DP again sensationally talked of a plot by the state to foment tension in his strongholds in an effort to suppress voter turnout.

Kenya Kwanza has also said that the government is using chiefs to buy or hold on national identity cards belonging to its supporters in a wider scheme to frustrate Dr Ruto’s chances of succeeding President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Matiang'i rubbishes allegation of plotting with chiefs to rig polls

It claims the grand plan is to cause unrest so as to justify heavy deployment of security personnel in areas perceived to be backing Dr Ruto’s presidential bid.

Tharaka Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki wrote to Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Wafula Chebukati, raising a host of concerns and crying foul over the involvement of state officers and apparatus in aiding the campaigns of Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition party presidential candidate Raila Odinga.

In the letter copied to heads of diplomatic missions and the International Criminal Court, Prof Kindiki talked of plans to deploy 30 National Intelligence Service (NIS) personnel to Nairobi and some counties in the Coast to disrupt elections.

“Chiefs and county commissioners are being coerced to participate in a widespread and systematic voter suppression campaign,” Prof Kindiki says in the letter.

“This suppression is not only intended to thwart the will of the people and to deny voters their democratic right. It is intended to raise the political temperature in the country and cause unrest, which might then be used to justify excessive force and other draconian measures.”

The alliance singles out Dr Matiang’i and Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho for masterminding the plan to influence the election outcome.

Prof Kindiki says in the letter that the two are out to threaten and blackmail state administrators with dismissal if they do not actively support Mr Odinga’s presidential bid.

“Chiefs in United Democratic Alliance (UDA) strongholds are buying or holding people’s national identification cards and keeping them until after the election so that UDA supporters are unable to...exercise their right to vote,” states the letter.

Help 'deep state’ rig elections at your own risk, Ruto warns chiefs

“We draw your attention to Azimio’s ongoing recruitment of three people per polling station to bribe voters and disrupt the process on election day, using funds from the Office of the President, as well as the deployment of 30 NIS agents in Nairobi and...the Coast, who are tasked to foment trouble.”

It adds that some chiefs and other state administrators are assaulting non-Azimio supporters.

The alliance says Azimio la Umoja is using police to stop is from accessing campaign rally venues.

The letter by Prof Kindiki cites the incident in which Kenya Kwanza leaders were barred from accessing Bukhungu stadium in Kakamega last weekend.

It also cites Tononoka grounds in Mombasa and Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi.

It is not the first time the use of chiefs is coming up in presidential election campaigns.

The matter featured prominently in the petition filed by National Super Alliance leader, Odinga, challenging President Kenyatta’s re-election in the August 7, 2017 vote.

The government yesterday asked Dr Ruto to provide evidence for his allegations, terming them unsubstantiated, unfounded and unpredictable.

“The government is run through established and known structures and accountability channels. It is not a secret society cloaked in conspiracies and dark agendas,” Dr Matiang’i said at the Administration Police Training College in Embakasi, Nairobi.

“As a senior member of the same government, the Deputy President ought to know and manifest an understanding of how decisions are arrived at and executed.”

Dr Ruto has in the last four years been at loggerheads with the state despite being a member of the National Security Council.

While most of his attacks have been taking place on social media or political rallies, Thursday was the first time the DP called an international press conference at his official Karen residence “to underline the gravity of the situation”.

Without providing evidence, he said the state security machinery, with knowledge of President Kenyatta, has crafted schemes to suppress voter turnout in his strongholds.

His accusations came a day after Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) detectives arrested nine Moi University students on suspicion of circulating hate leaflets in Uasin Gishu county.

The nine were released on a Sh500,000 bond each yesterday. (See separate story)

“The people behind these leaflets are known by the state. The intention is to cause panic and a situation that will make citizens fear to vote,” he told journalists.

After chairing a meeting of security chiefs at the AP Training College, Dr Matiang’i said the last four years have not been easy “as a member of the cabinet has been constantly attacking security agencies”.

“Security is a regimented arrangement. I am not aware of any discussion at the National Security Council mandating us to instruct chiefs to campaign for a candidate. It has to be in writing and I have not seen any communication,” he said.

Kenya Kwanza has been accusing Dr Matiang’i, his ICT colleague Joe Mucheru and other Cabinet Secretaries of going against their mandate and campaigning for Mr Odinga.

Dr Matiangi, Mr Mucheru, Mr Peter Munya (Agriculture) and Mr Eugene Wamalwa (Defence) have indeed addressed Azimio la Umoja One Kenya rallies.

The four CSs say there is nothing wrong with that as they were also on the campaign trail in 2017.

Dr Matiang’i termed the claims of his ministry being used to rig the elections as lies.

“There is a clear line between my inclination and my responsibility. There is nothing wrong with having an inclination. I will not lie. I will deliver what the Constitution requires of me and that is providing a secure environment for the elections,” he said.

“Even our police officers will vote for whoever they want. But they know that it is work when they wear government uniform.”

Laikipia Governor Ndiritu Muriithi urged Kenyans not to take serious what Kenya Kwanza leader say.

Mr Ndiritu, who heads Mr Odinga’s campaign team, said the complains are signs of a sinking ship, adding that it is not the first time Dr Ruto and his allies are making “wild allegations”.

“Kenya Kwanza has come up with all kinds of accusations. These people are suffering from mood swings – from laughter to instant anger,” he said.

“When a person insults others unnecessarily, you have to worry about their emotional stability. They will make all kinds of allegations. How can a person take anything (Kenya Kwanza running mate Rigathi) Gachagua says seriously?”

In his press briefing, Dr Ruto singled out Rift Valley Regional Commissioner Maalim Mohamed, County Commissioners Samson Ojwang (Trans Nzoia), Stephen Kihara (Uasin Gishu) and Erastus Mbui (Nakuru) as part of the scheme to disrupt elections.

“They are holding night meetings to orchestrate and plan conflict among Kenyans. Unfortunately, the President is aware. We ask the President to ensure that the country is safe and to stop these people from planning evil.” he said.

Additional reporting by Onyango K’Onyango 

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