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November 21, 2018

Is Raila Presidency a security threat?

Former prime minister Raila Odinga. Photo/FILE
Former prime minister Raila Odinga. Photo/FILE

Last week Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga sent out a statement claiming that the National Intelligence Service (NIS) is interfering with the ongoing voter registration process with the aim of influencing results in the coming elections.


The opposition leader accused the NIS of taking Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) kits into Uganda and Ethiopia so that citizens of the two countries could register as Kenyan voters. He also accused the security agency of facilitating citizens of the two countries to acquire Kenyan identification documents, helping them cross into Kenya, and having them registered as voters. Finally he accused the NIS of being behind the recently flagged multiple voter registrations and shared identity cards and the capturing of people as registered when they have not been registered.


Raila; as is the norm when he makes accusations against the Jubilee government; did not provide any evidence to support his claims. However let us give him benefit of the doubt for a minute, and assume that he is right.


What Raila is telling us is that the Kenyan security system is biased against him becoming President. This might be true because security systems have long memories and (I understand that) they tend to have a problem with civilians who have been associated with attempted coups in the past, trying to get into power. In fact it was once rumored that some military generals who have since retired had sworn they cannot serve under a Raila presidency because of the allegations that he was involved in the 1982 attempted coup.


Raila then suggests that Uganda and Ethiopia are also involved in the effort to stop him from becoming Kenya’s President. Now it is important to note that Uganda and Ethiopia are first and foremost military states; whatever else they might look like from the outside. This then means that if it is true that Kenya is registering Ethiopians and Ugandans to vote in Kenya in August, then both the Ugandan and Ethiopian political and military authorities know about it, and have endorsed these actions.


The question then becomes (assuming Raila is speaking the truth); why would two states with powerful military and security apparatus; and with a propensity to throw their armies across borders when their national interests are threatened; partner with the Kenyan security agency to stop Raila Odinga from being President of Kenya? More specifically, why would the security systems of three countries that do not share a common political ideology, or common democratic processes, or even a common history or social dynamic, conspire to stop one individual from being President?


Maybe the answer to these questions is in another question. What do the security systems of the three countries have in common?


The only thing I can think of is that the three countries are heavily invested in security against; and in the war against; terrorism. This would then mean that the only thing that would motivate them to conspire against a common ‘enemy’ is if they felt that such person was affecting the war against terror, negatively.


My conclusion on this matter is to hope that Raila Odinga was just playing his usual politics with this matter and that it is not true that Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia’s security agencies have conspired against his presidential bid.




Raila’s accusations history as regards who is conspiring to stop him from being Kenya’s president is quite colorful. During the Moi administration it was the constitution and the Judiciary. Under Kibaki it was the Electoral body and the Executive, through the Public Service, Police, Provincial Administration and the Kenya Defense Forces. Under Uhuru it is the IEBC and the NIS (and Ethiopia and Uganda!). Maybe it is time for him to consider that he might just not know how to win elections.

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