Raila Odinga’s aide saga raises fears over return of political oppression
By OSCAR OBONYO
It is former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who once hilariously noted that if a dog barks at you, ask not why but find out who its master is. The Coalition for Reforms and Democracy ( Cord) leader appears confronted with a reverse situation, following the summoning of one of his key aides by the Criminal Investigations Department ( CID) over alleged revolution plot.
Coming very early in the day â€“ during the first hundred days of Jubilee Government â€“ the development has raised heated debate. Mr Eliud Owalo is not just any other individual or professional. He is directly associated with Raila, who served as a co-principal with President Kibaki in the Tenth Parliament.
The latest development accordingly raises a host of questions. Is the Campaign Manager of Railaâ€™s presidential bid acting on his behalf in the alleged subversion acts? Or is he being (mis)used to send a coded message to the Cord leader? Alternatively is he just a pawn in an emerging wider political scheme?
Raila backers view the latest move on Owalo as a direct affront on their man. Those who fought alongside him in the so-called second liberation view the action as political intimidation aimed at ushering back the one-party dictatorial rule.
â€œIt is too soon for the Government of (President) Uhuru and (Deputy President William) Ruto to start harassing an individual who, in the public knowledge, is closely associated to Raila. It is obvious what this is all about. In the past (President) Jomo Kenyatta did it, (President) Moi did it and a few people in President Kibaki also tried to vanquish opposition voices,â€ reacts, former Runyenjes MP and political detainee, Njeru Kathangu.
But conceding ignorance over factual details of the Owalo case, Prof Munene Macharia opines that if indeed there are activities of such nature committed by the Raila aide, then he should be interrogated and appropriate action taken.
Noting that rebellion by opposition is commonplace in political history, Munene who teaches history and International Relations at the United States International University (USIU-Kenya), warns that subversion is a major crime â€œand it does not matter who the offender isâ€.
â€œWe must allow the Government to carry out its investigative mandate. In fact it would be more worrying if nothing was done,â€ says Munene.
Owaloâ€™s troubles started in earnest last weekend after he penned an article in The Standard On Sunday calling for the dissolution of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), which he summarily dismissed as incompetent and partisan.
Curiously, Raila arrived on the same day from an official overseas trip in Australia, and as if reading from the same script, castigated the electoral body and repeated Owaloâ€™s lines that it should be scrapped.
Separately, Orange party insiders say the President and his deputy have separately and privately made overtures to Raila to quite politics in exchange for a â€œplum jobâ€ as Kenyaâ€™s special envoy for a docket of his choice. The Standard On Sunday has not independently established the claims, although such a refrain has been repeated by MPs allied to Uhuru and Ruto, as condition for releasing Railaâ€™s retirement package.
According to our sources, however, Owalo leads a team of individuals around the PM who have dissuaded him against quitting politics. What is more, The Standard On Sunday has authoritatively established that the former PMâ€™s aide has in fact already constituted a technical campaign secretariat for Raila in readiness for 2017. Our sources indicate the secretariat will immediately embark on coordinating Cord activities and advice Raila on legislative agenda.
A host of other activities may also have put Owalo on the spot and under scrutiny by rivals in Jubilee. Even after Railaâ€™s campaign debacle, Owalo has continued to voluntarily coordinate operations of Cord and Railaâ€™s programmes locally and internationally.
And lately, he is said to be â€œdeeply involvedâ€ in the planning of Cord allied governorsâ€™ foreign trip to America in Dallas, Texas, Dallas. The trip of 12 governors is scheduled for July 25th.
These underground operations have got many tongues wagging, including operatives in Government and Jubilee. In its summons, the CID levels ten allegations against the Raila aide, including that he intends to recruit youths to cause chaos, has been holding secret meetings with youth as part of the orchestrated plans to cause chaos and that â€œtogether with other un-named personsâ€ he plans to provoke the police by deliberately engaging them in constant running battles.
The CID allege that Owalo plans to incorporate the civil society and the clergy or churches in these schemes, that he intends to cause of initiate a popular revolution similar to those in the uprising in the middle East and in particular the Egyptian style revolution or uprising. It is instructive that President Kenyatta has publicly criticised the recent dethroning of the Egyptian leader by the army.
The Raila aide is also accused of working with Foreign Embassies and Diplomats to use the ICC matter to cause disaffection between the President and his Deputy on the one hand and the international Community.
Former Kitutu East MP and pro reforms crusader Abuya Abuya is however a very worried man. Recalling that the second liberation was realised through the shedding of blood, Abuya contests that â€œsummoning political figures for political questioning is a very dangerous trendâ€.
â€œKenyans must rise up against such a move as we can no longer allow intimidation and curtailment of the freedom of association which we fought so hard to attain,â€ he charges.
And claiming that those targeting the Raila aide are using him as decoy to send messages to opposition politicians, Kathangu advises the Government to stop political witch-hunt â€œor the country shall forever not be cohesiveâ€.
As for Munene, there are two sides of the story in each case â€“ that all criminal cases must be investigated even if they involve former Presidents or Premier, but if the Jubilee leadership is using intimidation as a ploy to calm opposition, then it will boomerang on them.
This story was first published by The Sunday Standard