Ali: a very effective police boss

Major General Mohammed Hussein Ali is, without doubt, the most effective police chief Kenya has seen in a long time.

When he got the job back in 2003, the Kenya Police had practically ceased funtioning as an institution. While there is currently lots of talk about police reforms, the situation back then was extremely bad.

Police patrols had stopped. There were no vehicles as most lay grounded in government yards across the country. The few police stations with vehicles did not have money for fuel. Police housing was in a deplorable state. The police command was not working thanks to corruption, under-funding, political interference and plain incompetence.

Crime was at an all time high, as Kenyans got used to car-jackings, robberies, burglaries, cattle rustling and political violence. There seemed little that anybody could do about it, as the Police Commissioner’s office became a revolving door of top cops leaving in frustration.

Critics of Ali would argue that nothing much has changed. For sure, Kenya still experiences a relatively higher crime level compared to similar countries in the region. Robberies, burglaries, cattle rustling and political violence plague the nation. Memories of the 2007 – 2008 political and ethnic clashes are fresh in the minds of many, and have provided ample ammunition for Ali’s critics who describe him as a failure because of the bloodshed.

Police housing has only witnessed a marginal improvement despite billions invested in new units. It seems there was such a huge backlog of housing that it will be a long time before police officers can live in comfort.

However, the problems of crime, cattle rustling, political violence and ethnic militias are a result of structural problems in Kenyan society and should not be blamed on one man. Indeed, some of Ali’s critics have been implicated in the violence that left over 1,500 people dead after the 2007 elections.

Crime is caused by a growing youthful population that cannot find enough jobs, and therefore joins criminal gangs to gain psychological and financial security. This is why groups like Mungiki and others exist. Extreme income inequalities between Kenya’s elite and the majority poor have worsened the bitterness felt by disenfranchised youth.

Cattle rustling is a result of competition for pasture and water mostly in the arid and semi arid areas of Kenya. Since communities see little chance of growing their herds in the face of climate change, the obvious solution is to raid their neighbours for more livestock. Politicians have worsened cattle rustling by either inciting their constituents or defending them from arrest.

Political violence is another structural failure in Kenya that Maj Gen Ali could not solve. Politicians and their parties are quick to play the ethnic card whenever they are arrested for criminal activity. They make it seem as though their tribe is under attack.

Without comprehensive reforms in Kenya’s political, economic and social dimensions, no police commissioner can salvage the situation.

Nevertheless, Maj Gen Ali did his best. Under his six year tenure, Ali re-introduced police patrols across the country. He re-equipped the police force with new patrol vehicles and trucks. He helped supply officers with modern policing equipment. He increased the recruitment of police officers as part of a long-term revitalization strategy. He improved the flow of information between the police and the public, with the best highlight being a video on the Mount Elgon operations against the Sabaot Land Defence Force.

Maj Gen Ali was a no-nonsense police chief who believed in using all available means to get the job done. For this reason, he got in trouble with the international community for ordering the abduction and execution of thousands of people in 2006 as part of the “War against Mungiki.” This will remain a blot on Ali’s career. (Search the Nairobi Chronicle for articles on extra judicial killings)

It is unfortunate that Ali’s tenure at the helm of the police force has become victim to the Kibaki – Raila and Grand Coalition Government political intrigues. Kenyans are wondering how far politicians will go to destroy the country’s vital institutions for purely selfish reasons.

For sure, the new police chief has a tough job living up to the standards of his predecessor. Mathew Iteere has an even tougher job living up to the expectations of politicians and their demagoguery.

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Building a police state

Men sprayed with machine gun fire. Police with sub-machine guns patrolling the streets on horseback. Checkpoints on every major highway. Armed escort for inter-city buses.

A police patrol car in the country side.

A new police patrol car in the country side.

These are characteristics of a country either under occupation or a state of emergency. It could also imply a fearsome dictatorship. But these are the characteristics of today’s Kenya. But inspite of this high visibility of police, crime soars while political instability threatens to tear the country apart.

It gets worse: recruitment of 50,000 police in the next two years. Massive government spending on tanks, guns, helicopters, patrol boats and patrol cars. Mandatory registration of mobile phones.  Very soon: registration will be required for all internet users.

Kenya has the highest deployment of armed police on the streets in East and Central Africa. Even countries that have experienced political instability, such as Rwanda and Uganda, do not have such a visible presence of police officers yet crime figures in those countries is much lower than in Kenya.

On the streets of Nairobi, police with AK-47 stand guard at every intersection, including side steets. There are uncountable numbers of plain clothes police supplemented by mounted police and City Council askaris.

At all major roundabouts leading into and out of the city centre will be found truckloads of riot police ready to move into action at a moment’s notice. All highways leading into Nairobi have checkpoints each with dozens of heavily armed police.

The same situation is replicated in the countryside. Though the smaller towns have a lesser police presence, there still exist checkpoints at every highway.

The War against Crime has resulted many deaths both on the side of police and among civilians. In the past month alone, more than a dozen police officers have been killed in the line of duty. On the other hand, elite police squads have shot people simply for “behaving suspiciously.” In many cases, its only the word of the police against a dead man.

The Kenya Police is headed by Major General Mohammed Hussein Ali. Poached from the army by President Mwai Kibaki in 2003, Gen Ali took over when the police was at its worst: street patrols had ceased, vehicles were grounded for lack of spares and the public had little confidence in the force. Gen Ali re-introduced patrols and popularized community policing. However, the old habits of summary execution, corruption and police connivance with criminals persist and may even have seen a resurgence since 2008.

With wide income inequalities, Kenya will continue investing more of its scarce resources in providing security for its elite amidst growing resentment from the majority of the population living in squalor. In other words, instead of building roads, schools and hospitals, government revenue is instead going into hiring more police and soldiers. Instead of supplying medicine, books and piped water, public funds are buying guns, bullets and teargas.

Yesterday, President Mwai Kibaki directed that all mobile phones in Kenya be registered by the end of the year. This, he said, is to enable the police apprehend fraudsters and extortionists. Critics are reading sinister motives because mobile phones were extensively used to disseminate campaign messages by Kibaki’s opponents in the 2007 elections. Mobile phone text messages relayed election results far ahead of the state electoral body.

Mobile phone providers, Safaricom and Zain, have said the move to register mobile phone subscribers will not make a difference in the fight against crime. “The issue of subscriber registration has been over-simplified by the political class and, in itself, it is not a panacea for addressing rising incidents of crime,” said Safaricom CEO Michael Joseph.

And in a bid to control the thought and political conscience of Kenyans, the government is secretly creating a new broadcast monopoly through the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation by exploiting the worldwide transition from analogue broadcasting to digital broadcasting.

According to the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK), the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) will be the only authorized digital broadcaster for the country. Anybody else wishing to operate a private radio or television station will be required to channel their signal through KBC.

It is becoming rather obvious that there exist elements in Kenya who wish to turn the country into a totalitarian state, where freedom and dissent is crushed mercilessly. It is up to all Kenyans to uphold the democratic rights of everybody else in order to guarantee our future liberties.

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Patrol car photo by Kiplagat

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Mungiki: government promises more of the same

In its first cabinet meeting in more than a month, the Kenyan government vowed to crush the Mungiki sect especially in the sect’s strongholds in the Central Province and Rift Valley.

Paramilitary police from the Rapid Deployment Unit in an anti-Mungiki patrol in Nyeri. Picture by the Daily Nation.

Paramilitary police from the Rapid Deployment Unit in an anti-Mungiki patrol in Nyeri. Picture by the Daily Nation.

Following the cabinet decision, paramilitary police were deployed onto the streets of towns where Mungiki has a huge presence.

Analysts however say that the government is intensifying its war against Mungiki without a significant change in strategy. There will be greater use of such tactics as arresting suspected members and assassinating its leaders despite international criticism of illegal killings by the Kenyan Police.

There is very little talk about the political and social measures that will draw the mostly youthful membership of Mungiki into a constructive engagment with civilized society.

The government’s war on Mungiki has drawn more recruits into the secretive organization than before. Hardly a day goes by without police breaking up a Mungiki oathing ceremony. For every oathing ceremony detected by police, there could be many others that the police did not know about.

Though the Mungiki engages in criminal activity, its existence and continued persistence is a result of social and economic factors affecting the youth.

Economically, youth are the most disadvantaged in Kenya. They are the most affected by unemployment. They do not own property and therefore cannot invest in viable business. A recent study on small scale farms found that they are mostly owned by the over 50 age group. Young farmers are frustrated by co-operative societies dominated by men well past their prime.

Socially, the youth feel isolated from national political discourse. Young people feel ignored even within families, within the community set up and in the church. Contrary to what the country’s politicians believe, having young leaders will not quieten the Mungiki phenomenon. It is the introduction and implementation of new ideas that will drive the country forward and help create opportunities for the youth.

Feelings of disempowerment and isolation make groups like Mungiki very attractive. Gangs create a sense of purpose and belonging that every human being craves. Mungiki provides a basic social net for its members, who regard themselves as one big family. It provides social grounding to a dispossessed and angry youth and helps them to comprehend the difficult circumstances they find themselves in.

Instead of the government devising a creative, inclusive and long-term solution, it attacks the millions of poor and excluded youth with guns, jail terms and torture. By doing so, the government is confirming what the poor believe about it: that it is a tool of oppression used by the rich to suppress the poor.

The solution to the Mungiki menace should come with the admission that there are serious social, economic and political problems in Kenya. Mungiki is not a problem confined only to the Kikuyu. Other communities in Kenya have their own gangs created by the same circumstances that led to the growth of Mungiki. The difference between Mungiki and gangs from other communities is simply the scale of organization. Mungiki has been around for longer and this has given it a head start.

The Kisii have gangs like Abachuma and Sungu Sungu. The Kamba have localized gangs around the Machakos area that have made life a living hell for the affluent. At the Kenyan Coast, disaffected youth are joining movements whose ultimate objective is to secede from the rest of Kenya. In Northern Kenya, youth are joining cattle rustling gangs, while North Eastern Kenya is providing recruits for militant groups fighting in Somalia.

Assuming the government wins the war on Mungiki, will it apply the same methods against other communities in Kenya? And what will be the consequences?

Killed for plotting radical change

Murdered human rights activist, Oscar Kamau King’ara, was mobilizing Kenyans to massively vote against the country’s cruel and corrupt rulers in the 2012 General Elections.

human_rights_quotes

The Liberators Movement was seen by certain powerful personalities as a threat to their political ambitions in the 2012 General Elections. These personalities were scared enough to organize the termination of Oscar before his initiative took off.

The Liberator movement has an elaborate membership plan: “We are organized into cells of 20 people from grassroots to national membership. And as a member you are required to form your cell, inform others why change is needed, share with them initiatives undertaken by Liberators family and call up for training and recruitment,” reads part of the information on the Oscar Foundation website.

In Kenya, such talk will provoke an immediate and brutal response from the ruling elite.

Oscar printed huge posters of President Mwai Kibaki, Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Environment Minister John Michuki describing them as examples of tyranny in Kenya. Raila is shown with duct tape covering his mouth, implying a policy of silence.

Oscar wrote that the “Liberator” is a movement of people whose mission is to redeem Kenya from the captivity of political leaders. It is meant to unite all Kenyans who are tired, unhappy and feel suppressed by the actions, nature and structure of the current crop of political leaders.

Here’s a sample of quotes from Liberator Movement documents:

Our vision is to create a Kenya in which all citizens belong in words and in life. A country of prosperity, justice, good governance and peace for all.

As liberators we share a lot in common; We pay heavy tax to finance the lavish life of our Members of parliament, Ministers, Prime Minister and the President of Kenya; We toil everyday but never have the good returns for our hard labour; We thirst and hunger and even die, when our leaders thrive and make profits in our suffering; We have seen the corrupt going unpunished and public properties being looted. We are assumed to be weak helpless and easy to forget. We appear to be easily divisible in tribes and region. That is what our leaders have been thinking of us all along.

But now we are rising as Liberator, to show them that we can free ourselves and that what they have known or thought us to be is not and will not be what we are or can be. We are waking up in readiness to let them know that though we may look weak and vulnerable, never in this initiative can we fail to achieve the change of our choice and expand the space and value of our democracy.

We have come to this point and we are not going to wait any more. By our numbers, we will find strength and by our united commitment we will coin victory and win against our political leaders who have turned the masses into goods of trade.

The Liberators’ guiding principles are love for the nation; sacrifice and commitment towards its reclamation; information sharing about the happenings in our country; and adoption of non-violence as a tool of struggle towards liberation of our nation. Our brief is very simple, to give you information, so that you can know your rights, know when it is being infringed upon; know whoever is responsible; and then show him or her that you will not take it any longer.

We are determined to stand up to be counted, we pledge not to let Kenya drown or go to the dogs – the dogs will simply eat it! As our leaders continue to conspire against us; forming themselves into a fellowship of thieves; thriving in impunity with less care and concern to the rest of us, let them know that we swear never to take it any more. We intend to employ all tools and tactics available within our reach to ensure that good governance in Kenya is not made a mere token or an act of goodwill by our leaders but an inherent foundation of democracy, governance and political representation furnished and powered by the will of the people.

You and I, in this country; must stand up and be the light of our villages however remote or near. We must be the hope for our oppressed generation; the inspiration for the young ones to come; the tower and the source of alternative leadership by the people and for the people. We must stand and give compass and direction when the Government and leadership cheats the masses. We are the repository of knowledge and so we must inform the moment; we are determined to send home all thieves, liars and looters who reside in the parliament; we demand our country back.

We want 2012 to be a lesson to them; to send them all packing. It is happening in the rest of the world; America, Ghana are just but a few countries which have shown in the recent past that power belongs not to the leaders but in the hands of the people. And if our leaders can not see the written signs and heed to our demand now, we promise a peaceful liberation of this country by making it ungovernable for them. We will fight them with the power of our numbers through civil disobedience, mass processions and public defiance. But key to all we are not willing to make them thrive in our silence.

We are organized into cells of 20 people from grassroots to national membership. As a member, you are required to form your cell, inform others why change is needed, share with them initiatives undertaken by the Liberators family and call up for training and recruitment.

Our ideology is patriotism and the strength of numbers backed by conviction that we hold it as a duty to defend and determine the kind of the country we wish to live in.

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Oscar: murdered by injustices he fought

Like most well educated, middle class Kenyans – and a trained lawyer at that – 38 year old Oscar Kamau Kingara had not planned to campaign for the poor, downtrodden citizens.

The late Oscar Kamau Kingara

The late Oscar Kamau Kingara

After graduating with a law degree, Oscar joined the family business that was involved manufacturing, meat and fish processing, real estate, import/export and sale of building materials within Kenya.

He planned to marry, have children, then live happily and quietly ever after. However, fate had other plans in store for him.

In 1996, Oscar experienced the injustices perpetuated by the state through a policy of destroying local industries for the benefit of multinationals. The government issued a statement meant to ensure that fish exports from Kenya were stopped. Oscar wrote in his website that the decision was, “aimed at punishing people from Nyanza province who were perceived by the KANU government to be anti-establishment. The policy was (Siasa mbaya maisha mbaya) meaning, “bad politics equals bad life.”

The government suspended fish exports to the European market, forcing Oscar to close down a multi million dollar factory in Kisumu that was processing and exporting fish. This first hand experience of high handed impunity by the state was an eye opener and Oscar realized how justice is hard to get especially for the vulnerable poor.

In 1998, Oscar founded the Oscar Foundation Free Legal Aid Clinic Kenya (OFFLACK). Oscar Foundation offers free legal services to poor Kenyans who cannot afford a lawyer. The foundation trains paralegals across the country in peaceful resolution of grievances.

In its website, Oscar Foundation says: “We educate youths to respect the rule of law, more so the Foundation encourages the poor and the youth to seek justice through the law and due process and not through violence or any other unlawful means.”

It was through the fulfillment of this mandate that Oscar Foundation was drawn into the Mungiki issue. Mungiki is an underground movement drawing its membership from ethnic Kikuyu youths in urban slums and rural squatter settlements.

In mid 2007, after a series of brutal murders blamed on the Mungiki sect, the Kenya Police launched the War on Mungiki. By September 2007, the government admitted complicity in the deaths of at least 300 suspected Kikuyu youth accused of Mungiki membership. Human rights organizations believed the figure to be closer to 500. It is estimated that between mid 2007 and today, at least 1,000 people were abducted and killed by police death squads. A United Nations report says that death squads operate with the full knowledge of the top police command.

The families of the dead and missing had no legal recourse. As expected, most of them were too poor to afford lawyers. Kenya’s mainstream media were too afraid to get involved in the Mungiki issue, for good reasons obviously. This is why the families of the disappeared turned to Oscar Foundation to help them trace their loved ones, or at least use legal processes to bring identify those behind the killings.

The late Oscar Kamau and his Foundation were exposing the secretive killings perpetrated by the Kenyan government against its own citizens. It was not something they had initially set out to do but they simply could not ignore the horrific tales they encountered with each passing day.

On February 25th 2008, the United Nations Special Rapporteur, Prof Philip Alston, issued a report condemning the Kenya Police for illegal killings. Alston recommended the dismissal of Attorney General Amos Wako and Police Commissioner Mohammed Hussein Ali. The government contemptuously rejected the report and vowed to continue its War on Mungiki.

Yesterday, March 5th, the Oscar Foundation called demonstrations in support of the United Nations recommendations. Transport was disrupted in Nairobi, Central Province and the Rift Valley which are the Mungiki strongholds. The government vowed to crack down hard against the organizers of the demonstration.

Yesterday, as Mungiki members and sympathisers engaged in street battles with police, government spokesman Dr Alfred Mutua issued a chilling warning: “the Government assures the people that all security measures have been put in place to ensure they are not harassed or their daily lives disrupted any longer.” Mutua attacked Oscar as a supporter and financier of Mungiki activities.

By nightfall, Oscar’s lifeless body was the subject of tug-of-war between University of Nairobi students and the Kenyan Police. Oscar and his associate at the Oscar Foundation, Paul Oulu, were shot on a public road adjacent to university hostels. The location where Oscar and Paul Oulu were killed is less than a kilometre from State House – the official home of the Kenyan president.

Witnesses say that armed men in one, perhaps two or more vehicles struck as Oscar and Oulu sat in their car. The gunmen sprayed Oscar and Oulu with bullets. They two activists had no chance of surviving the onslaught. It is clear that the mission of the gunmen was to kill and silence forever those frustrating the War on Mungiki.

With usual short-sightedness, Kenyans are celebrating the War on Mungiki, rationalizing the killing of innocents as a, “necessary price to pay.” Experience from other parts of the world shows that when human rights are violated, nobody is safe.

Today, the target of state brutality is Mungiki. Next year it will be another group.

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Find out more about the Oscar Foundation on this website: http://www.oscarfound.org/

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Activists killed near State House

A Kenyan human rights activist who has criticized the Kenyan government for abducting and killing thousands of people has been shot dead near the president’s official residence.

Oscar Kamau Kingara was shot in his car alongside his colleague, Paul Oulu. Oscar leads a legal aid organization, the Oscar Foundation, which is agitating for the rights of suspected members of the Mungiki sect, which has borne the brunt of the government’s death squad operations.

Kenyan security forces accuse Oscar of supporting Mungiki.

Incidentally, the shooting came hours after a government spokesman said that, “all security measures have been put in place to ensure the public not harassed …” It is not clear whether last night’s public execution was among the raft of “security measures” that the government is alluding to.

Mungiki held a series of demonstrations across Kenya yesterday, backing a United Nations call for the country’s police commissioner and the Attorney General to resign for complicity in illegal police executions. Both Oscar and Oulu had testified before United Nations Special Rapporteur, Philip Alston.

The Kenyan government has dismissed Alston’s recommendations that the police chief and Attorney General resign. Minister for Internal Security, Professor George Saitoti, has vowed to continue the war against Mungiki, raising fears of further abductions, killings and disappearances.

Saitoti’s elusive presidency

He is undoubtedly a brilliant, well accomplished personality who oozes power wherever he goes. With lots of help along the way, he has worked hard to get where he is. He is a formidable political strategist in possession of vast financial reserves. But somehow, the presidency eludes him.

Professor George Saitoti. Picture by Tom Maruko

Professor George Saitoti. Picture by Tom Maruko

The latest obstacle to Saitoti’s presidential bid is the damning report by United Nations Special Rapporteur Mr Philip Alston, which blames the Kenya Police for killing thousands of youths. As the Minister for Internal Security since January 2008, Prof Saitoti was firmly in charge as police battled protesters and ethnic militias following the disputed elections of December 2007.

Unfortunately, Prof Saitoti has vowed to continue police operations against the Mungiki sect. This is likely to worsen the kind of illegal police executions that have attracted the wrath of the United Nations.

Incidentally, Saitoti is taking the flak for widespread torture and executions that began when fellow cabinet Minister, John Michuki, was in internal security. Back in 2007, Michuki promised death for anyone suspected of belonging to Mungiki. Today, Michuki is earning accolades as Environment Minister while Saitoti takes the blame for Michuki’s ruthless orders.

Perhaps that is the problem with Saitoti: he is just too loyal to the ruling establishment in spite of his tribulations on their behalf. As Minister for Finance from the 1980s up to 1993, Saitoti looked the other way as personalities appointed by President Daniel arap Moi shamelessly looted state coffers.

The Goldenberg scandal, where the government paid billions of shillings for fake gold and diamond exports, is a blot on his career. Indeed, most Kenyans associate Saitoti with Goldenberg even though it was Moi’s baby in cahoots with the intelligence chief and close allies. Saitoti’s successor at the Ministry of Finance, Musalia Mudavadi (now Deputy Prime Minister) inherited the Goldenberg affair and paid billions but little mention is made of this fact. So interlinked is Saitoti with Goldenberg that he might as well change his first name from ‘George’ to ‘Goldenberg.’

Despite being Vice President for 12 years, Professor Saitoti never captured the popularity of Kenyans. His fortunes were tied to ex President Daniel arap Moi in ways that made him appear like Moi’s puppet. Saitoti was actually doing quite well as Professor of Mathematics at the University of Nairobi but Moi took him by the hand, introduced him to politics and elevated him at astounding speed.

A common political story says that Saitoti was so poor that he drove an old, beaten up Volkswagen Beetle. After his encounter with Moi, he suddenly crossed the valley of poverty and therefore owes his riches to Moi. The story was probably encouraged by Moi, whose meagre formal education made him insecure with Professor Saitoti. It is because of inferiority complex that Moi gave himself the title, “Professor of Politics,” to counter Saitoti’s Professor of Mathematics.

Moi appointed the mathematics professor as Finance minister in 1983. According to Kenya’s constitution, a cabinet minister must be a member of parliament, so Moi gave Saitoti a direct nomination into the legislature. At the next elections in 1988, Moi prevailed on the Member of Parliament for Kajiado North constituency to step down for Saitoti.

In 1989, Moi fell out with Vice President Josephat Karanja and appointed Saitoti in his place. Saitoti eventually became Moi’s longest serving Vice President until he was considered a potential successor. Saitoti survived so long under Moi because of his unswaying loyalty. Saitoti never said a bad thing about Moi and even when the opposition posed a serious challenge in 1992, Saitoti stuck with his political mentor.

As it turned out, Saitoti had bet on the right horse and Moi won multi party elections in 1992 and 1997. However, Moi began seeing Saitoti’s loyalty as a pain. After the 1997 elections, Moi refused to re-appoint Saitoti and the Vice Presidency remained vacant for 14 months. In early 1998, while Moi was shopping for vegetables in Limuru, he suddenly announced that he was reappointing Saitoti as Vice President.

To add salt to injury, Moi told the crowd that a Vice President was not important and that it would not add food to peoples’ plates. Moi’s exact words were:

“I have given you a Vice President like you have been asking … now I will wait to see whether it will increase the amount of maize meal in your kitchens.”

Later, Moi told a rally that there was no presidential material in his cabinet. This was a humiliating blow to Saitoti and other KANU stalwarts, including Kalonzo Musyoka and Musalia Mudavadi.

In 2002, Moi turned his attention to his latest catch – Raila Odinga. Raila had joined KANU from the opposition after a dismal performance in the 1997 polls. Saitoti felt betrayed that, despite his loyalty, Moi was cosing up to an opposition defector. But this was not the end of the story: for in the same year, Moi abandoned Raila and chose Uhuru Kenyatta as presidential successor. Moi argued that Saitoti was not fit for the presidency.

The KANU front runners including Saitoti, Raila and Kalonzo jumped ship and joined opposition leader Mwai Kibaki in an alliance, At the 2002 polls, KANU was resoundingly defeated by the Kibaki, Raila, Saitoti and Kalonzo alliance. Saitoti shifted his loyalty from Moi to Kibaki.

In 2009, after 6 years of dedicated service to Kibaki, Saitoti was elected head of the largest pro-Kibaki outfit, the Party of National Unity (PNU). However, a United Nations report might kill Saitoti’s ambitions.

According to United Nations Special Rapporteur Mr Philip Alston, the Kenya Police created death squads to exterminate members of the outlawed Mungiki sect. The death squads reportedly received orders from senior police commanders. Alston recommended the dismissal of the country’s Attorney General and Police Commissioner but his report did not question the extent to which the political leadership was involved. Saitoti’s vow to continue the war on Mungiki will surely cast him poorly in light of the Alston report.

Will Saitoti ever make it to the presidency? He has several advantages in his favor. He is hungry for it. Nobody makes it to power without a burning ambition and sense of calling. He has the financial capabilities to mount a long-drawn campaign. He has the right contacts among Kenya’s business, religious and political elite. Saitoti has also made good friends across the world.

However, Saitoti is unpopular among the Kenyan masses. Little is known about his family while his personal history is rather hazy. Saitoti is too stiff: he is rarely seen in public without a suit. His statements are measured, designed to show loyalty rather than provoke debate. Saitoti does not appear on television or radio talk shows.

Kenyan politics is filled with characters who have done much worse than Saitoti. The present 42 member cabinet is a collection of convicted fraudsters, thieves, killers and sex predators. Saitoti has never been convicted of theft let alone other heinous crimes perpetrated by his colleagues who, interestingly, are hugely popular.

Saitoti needs to talk more to the Kenyan people about his presidential bid. He needs to become his own man and shake off the image of aloofness that he is known for. He needs to give more information about his family and about his past.

If he doesn’t do these, he will not connect with the voters.