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News about our programmes 30, Sept. 2014

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Books & arts

Review of 'Raila Odinga's Stolen Presidency'

Per Lindgren

2009-03-13, Issue 423

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/books/54780

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An explosive book about Kenya’s December 2007 bungled election has been launched in Stockholm. The book, Raila Odinga’s Stolen Presidency: Consequences and The Future of Kenya written by Mr. Okoth Osewe, a Kenyan author, takes the position that the December 2007 election was rigged by the Samuel Kivuitu-led Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) in favor of Mr. Mwai Kibaki who was immediately sworn in as President in a hurriedly convened secret ceremony at State House Nairobi on Sunday December 30th 2007.

RAILA ODINGA’S STOLEN PRESIDENCY: Consequences And The Future Of Kenya By Mr. Okoth Osewe

Publisher: iVisby AB, Sweden

Pages: 464, Paper back

ISBN: 978-91-633-3972-1

Copyright: Okoth Osewe 2008

Reviewer: Per Lindgren

An explosive book about Kenya’s December 2007 bungled election has been launched in Stockholm. The book, Raila Odinga’s Stolen Presidency: Consequences and The Future of Kenya written by Mr. Okoth Osewe, a Kenyan author, takes the position that the December 2007 election was rigged by the Samuel Kivuitu-led Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) in favor of Mr. Mwai Kibaki who was immediately sworn in as President in a hurriedly convened secret ceremony at State House Nairobi on Sunday December 30th 2007. The disputed election precipitated a crisis that led to the slaughter of an estimated 1,500 Kenyans and creation of 350,000 internal refugees.

According to the book, the rigging of presidential election in Kenya was masterminded by the corrupt “Kikuyu ruling class” that had formed an impenetrable Mafia cartel around Kibaki and that worked in cahoots with ECK to allegedly steal the vote to hand Kibaki victory.

Detailed backgrounds of a group of “Fat cats who kidnapped Kibaki’s Presidency” are given in the book with top names featuring Dr. Joe Wanjui, a long time Kibaki ally, Kiraitu Murungi, Minister of Energy, John Michuki, Minister of Environment, Chris Murungaru, former Internal Security Minister, Francis Muthaura, Head of Civil Service and Secretary to the Cabinet and Njenga Karume, former Defence minister. The “fat cats” are painted as corrupt and blamed for having shielded the President soon after the December 2002 election in order to maintain Kikuyu hegemony on power, promote corruption and perpetuate tribalism in government.

Using figures of Election returns from ECK and other sources, Mr. Osewe puts together a formidable compilation and analysis of statistics to isolate 473,835 votes that were allegedly added to Kibaki to give him victory with 4,584,721 votes over Raila’s 4,352,993 votes.

Names of ECK officials who were active at Kenyatta International Conference Center where the tallying was taking place, together with numbers of their IDs and cell phones are included in the compilation to advance the theory that the election rigging was an exercise that was masterminded by known people who knew what they were doing and who were acting under clear instructions. International observers cast aspersions on the credibility of results because of serious irregularities during the tallying process especially at KICC.

The volume of a book, (464 pages long) claims that the Kikuyu ruling class used ECK to rig elections because they were looting the country’s economy and plundering it’s resources through corruption and that if they lost power under the circumstances, they were bound to lose the benefits of having their man at State House with unforeseen consequences.

“Raila was set to take over power after defeating Kibaki and given the evidence on corruption that existed both at the official level and in the public domain, a driving motive that could have led Kikuyu ruling class to rig elections must have been the strong fear of prosecutions on corruption related scandals as promised by ODM in its Election Manifesto”, the book says.

US government wanted to keep Raila Odinga out of power

Taking the unequivocal position that Raila won the vote, the book details reasons why PNU, Kibaki’s Party, was floored at the polls. The book says that millions of Kenyan voters had become tired with a wealth-grabbing Kikuyu ruling class that was perpetuating tribalism through organized “Kikuyunization of government” as the masses of the Kenyan people went without food, died of treatable diseases and suffered under high inflation occasioned by run-away prices of consumer commodities.

According to the book, Kibaki was not in a position to deliver on key election promises like ending corruption because corruption is part of the system of capitalism that the Narc government inherited from Moi. The book says that Kibaki could not end tribalism either because Narc, his Party, was ideologically bankrupt and therefore ill equipped to end tribalism. Mr. Osewe argues that nobody will ever end tribalism in Kenya as long as there is no alternative to it which, he says, is class based politics.

Although the book says that ODM had no better political alternative to Kibaki’s PNU, it argues that Kenyans voted for ODM because of multiple illusions that had been built in the minds of Kenyans that ODM was better than PNU. In reality, the book says that the two parties are ideologically similar because they both practice politics from the point of view of “deformed capitalism” while they both support unworkable policies of Western imperialism which, the book says, are also responsible for the deep economic crisis Kenya has been plunged in for decades.

Within the mix of Raila Odinga’s stolen Presidency, the United States government is singled out as having had a strong interest in keeping Raila away from power because the Bush Administration was apparently uncomfortable with Raila. A deep analysis is rendered in the book to explain why the US government congratulated Kibaki soon after the vote was rigged at KICC.

For example, the book says that Raila made a big strategic mistake in signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Kenyan Muslims to the effect that no Muslim would be taken to Guantanamo for interrogation and torture if he took power because in so doing, Raila was undermining US foreign policy and complicating US government’s self declared war on terror. This mistake, the book says, made the US government uncomfortable because Kenya “is a political play ground” of the US government and other European powers.

“Raila’s deal with Kenyan Muslims amounted to drawing the boundary as to what the US government could and could not do in Kenya. The message Raila was sending in the name of capturing the Muslim vote was that once he became President, Kenya would no longer be a puppet of the United States, especially on its war against terrorism”, the book says.

The author’s view is that the ODM victory at the ballot represented a “generational revolt that could topple imperialist status quo” in Kenya while it also says that if Raila took power, there was “possible ideological challenges to imperialism” by new anti-imperialist Parties and movements that could spring up in Kenya by exploiting the democratic space that a Raila Presidency was bound to open. According to Mr. Osewe, the US government was comfortable with Kibaki, the Devil it knew and not Raila, the Angel it didn’t know.

The Kriegler Report was a distortion of Kenyan history

In his attempt to “demolish the concept that the 2007 election was not rigged in favor of Kibaki”, Mr. Osewe attacks the Kriegler Commission that investigated the conduct of the election and takes the view that the “Kriegler Report” (which concluded that the winner of the Presidential election could not be determined) was “a distortion of Kenyan history” and an insult to the intelligence of millions of Kenyan truth seekers.

The book says that the Kriegler Report is dubious because it only investigated ten of the fourty eight disputed constituencies; it never interviewed key returning officers in areas of serious dispute, it kept alternative rebuttals from Civil society organizations away; it invited dubious people to give “acceptable views”; it ignored opposing views from certain dissenting Commissioners while it never examined all available data on election rigging despite having had access to this data.

The book proceeds to present missing data in the Kriegler Report from 37 Constituencies which Mr Osewe analyses to expose rigging and to argue that the Kriegler Commission cheated Kenyans because it had a pre-determined conclusion following the signing of the National Accord and Reconciliation Act 2008. The Commission is accused of violating known methods of scientific inquiry after setting its own rules to produce a skewed Report because it had a set agenda to serve internal and external interests.

"Although the Kriegler Report was accepted because of political expediency, it is a major distortion of Kenyan history, a drawback to the country’s democratization process, an insult to the intelligence of millions of Kenyans and a further exposure of the ongoing conspiracy between the Kenyan ruling class and Imperialism for the sake of “peace and continuity” that alone, can guarantee a peaceful exploitation of the country’s resources by local and international wealth grabbers", the book states.

The book also delves into the consequences of election rigging notably the resurfacing of the thorny land question which, the book says, has never been resolved since Kenya’s “flag independence” in 1963. According to the author, the land question has never been tackled because top politicians who have been holding power and their foreign backers have been the leading land grabbers who will never address the problem of landlessness because of vested interests.

In tackling the problem of landlessness, the book says that it “will not just mean a shift in government policy but a radical ideological change opposed to the free market system of government that has converted land into a commodity for sale and allowed a few fat cats to own vast pieces of land when millions of Kenyans are landless”.

Kenya: The myth of peace in a conflict zone

Compared to its neighbors, the popular view is that Kenya has been relatively peaceful. In the book, Mr. Osewe challenges what he calls “The myth of peace in a conflict zone” and advances the view that behind the much touted peace occasioned by lack of military conflicts, Kenya is the epicenter of multiple social conflicts and contradictions which exploded following the stealing of Raila’s Presidency.

"The battle that has been raging in Kenya and that rarely finds effective expression in the world media is the battle between the rich and the poor, the “haves” and the “have nots,” the exploited and the exploiter, the powerful and the powerless, the wealth grabbers and the robbed, the bellyful wanabenzi [Benz drivers] and the hungry, the millionaire tycoons and the beggars in the streets, those with food on the table and those starving, the business community and the paupers, the fat land grabbers and the landless, the tiny wealthy ruling class and the army of unemployed youth", the book says before giving a pessimistic perspective of the future.

“The truth is that the peace being trumpeted in this context has been an artificial peace because conditions for peace have not been in existence in Kenya for decades and this is how the situation will remain if key issues that led to the election of ODM are not addressed either by present or future governments”, says Mr. Osewe.

The book, whose launch in Kenya is in the pipeline, concludes with a perspective of Kenyan politics. It lists a range of issues that the Coalition government will and will not be able to address during its life while it also attempts to define the political direction of the country in the run up to next elections.

Throughout his presentation, Mr. Osewe’s style of analysis betrays a clear leftist inclination as he challenges basic concepts of free market in Kenya and “imperialist control” of the country’s politics, economy and culture. Although the author avoids the use of Marxist jargon in his formulations, he leaves the informed reader with little doubt about his ideological standpoint as a contemporary Kenyan leftist thinker and writer.

While the book blames politicians for being responsible for the country’s malaise, it attempts to shift attention to the political system which, it argues, needs to be changed because, according to the book, it is this system that allows politicians to run down the country and prompt them to rig elections when they are on the verge of losing the vote.

The book is available for purchase at www.mapambano.com while it is also selling in designated book stores across the world. Information is also available at Mr. Osewe’s official blog at www.kenyastockholm.com

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