President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday said that anyone planning chaos before, during or after the August 8 General Election will be arrested, triggering a fresh round of heightened exchanges with the Opposition.
Speaking in Embu County, where he mobilised residents to register as voters, the President described opposition chief Raila Odinga as a tribalist who hates peace.
“The Opposition is led by a tribalist who doesn’t like peace,” said President Kenyatta at Siakago town. “Who is this he claims wants to steal elections? We are winning fair and square.”
He said the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (Cord) leader was bent on causing chaos if he lost the election and that is why he was making the claims.
“I will not allow anyone in Kenya to lose their lives or property because of elections again,” said President Kenyatta. “The government will legally deal with leaders planning to cause chaos.”
But in a swift rejoinder, Mr Odinga, whom the President accused of taking the country through periods of tension every election year, refuted the allegations and declared he was not afraid of arrest.
The Orange Democratic Movement party leader said in Changamwe, Mombasa County, that the Opposition would not be intimidated by the President.
“Sisi hatuko tayari kuleta fujo lakini hatuwezi kutishwa (We do not plan chaos but we will not be intimidated),” Mr Odinga said at the rally, which was disrupted by rowdy youths several times. “I have stayed in jail for nine years.
“I am not, and cannot, be intimidated by such threats.”
Mr Odinga, who had earlier addressed rallies in Kombani and Diani in Kwale County as he mobilised potential voters to register, said it was President Kenyatta and his Jubilee government who were planning chaos.
“When we were launching the voter listing campaigns, the President was launching police vehicles,” said Mr Odinga, telling his supporters to ensure they protect the ballots during voting, counting and announcement of the results.
Perhaps taking a cue from the Head of State, Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph ole Nkaissery on Wednesday asked Mr Odinga to record a statement with police regarding his recent claims that the government was using the National Intelligence Service (NIS) to rig the elections. He said in Narok County that the claims were a threat to the country’s stability and that they should be investigated.
On Tuesday, Mr Odinga claimed that the Jubilee administration was using the NIS to interfere with the ongoing mass voter registration with the aim of influencing the polls. He said the officers were issuing Ugandans and Ethiopians with Kenyan identity cards and registering them as voters.
But while addressing supporters at Kiritiri, Siakago, Runyenjes, Manyatta and Embu towns in Embu County, the President said his administration was under attack and needed protection through massive voter registration.
“The person I am facing doesn’t like peace,” said President Kenyatta. “That is why he is making claims of us rigging the elections.
“Is he right to talk about rigging yet it is you, the people, who will make the decision? His claims are meant to cause chaos.”
He asked residents to reject leaders who were bent on dividing Kenyans along tribal lines.
“The role of a leader is to boost cohesion and unity among residents,” said the President. “Avoid leaders who divide you along tribal lines.
“A true leader should not tell you to shun others just because they are from Mbeere, Embu, Kikuyu or any other tribe. Those leaders who tell you to shout down others should be avoided. When they ask you to go and cause chaos or heckle others, ask them to bring their children.”
At Parliament Buildings, Nairobi, National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale led 14 Jubilee members of Parliament in accusing Mr Odinga of seeking to reverse the gains the country had made after the government agreed to his demands for significant reforms ahead of the General Election. The Garissa Town MP said Mr Odinga had sensed defeat and was preparing his supporters to reject the results and throw the country into turmoil.
In Mombasa, Jubilee officials led by Kilifi North MP Gideon Mung’aro accused Governors Hassan Joho (Mombasa) and Amason Kingi (Kilifi) of being party to “threats of violence’’ at a time when the region’s tourism industry was getting back on its feet following a slump that was blamed on insecurity.
“We as Jubilee are saddened by utterances by Mr Odinga and other leaders from the Coast asking voters to prepare for war,” said Mr Mung’aro, who was accompanied by Mombasa County Jubilee organising secretary Amina Abdalla and Nominated Senator Beth Mugo.
In Nyeri, Senator Mutahi Kagwe and Kieni MP Kanini Kega accused Mr Odinga of inciting Kenyans to violence by telling lies.
Mr Kagwe said: “Everything you hear the Opposition saying is utter stupidity. They are only preparing themselves for defeat”.
Mr Kega dismissed the claims about the NIS as an attempt to whip up Kenyans’ emotions and hurt the government’s image abroad.
Report by John Ngirachu, Daniel Nyassy, Charles Wanyoro, Winnie Atieno, Mohamed Ahmed and Grace Gitau.