In Summary
  • The reference to ethnic profiling and deliberate targeting of the Kikuyu stood out in the statements from both Present Kenyatta and Mr ole Lenku.
  • Not a single shred of proof was offered for the growing narrative linking Mr Odinga to terrorist attacks, an anti-Kikuyu offensive and western-backed push against the Uhuru-Ruto regime, but the Jubilee heartland eagerly lapped up the propaganda.
  • At the same time, government security operatives at the highest levels were keenly feeding the media with ‘leaks’ from classified Intelligence signals on threats off attacks against Kikuyu residents and businesses in Kisumu, Bungoma and other Cord strongholds.

The recorded television statement from President Uhuru Kenyatta broadcast on Tuesday on the Sunday night raid that killed nearly 50 people in Mpeketoni township in Lamu county added an alarming political dimension to Kenya’s recent security problems.

The President was pointing the finger directly, even without mentioning names, at opposition leader Raila Odinga, who since returning from a three month visit to the United States has led a series of high-profile political rallies to press demands for a national conference on problems afflicting Kenya.

It should be logical then that the President follow-up his startling accusations with action, that naturally should include arrest of Mr Odinga and others he accuses of such horrific crimes.

Although Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph ole Lenku had on Monday alluded to political incitement, his statement was largely received with skepticism, as a reckless attempt to divert attention to the political opposition when Kenya is facing serious security challenges.

The President echoing his Cabinet Secretary’s assertion added authority to what is now the official position; That the Mpeketoni attack was not the work of the Somalia-based Al Shabbab terrorist as initially believed, but the Cord leadership – “reckless leaders and hate-mongers, who … create hate, intolerance and fanaticism”.

The President referred more or less directly to the Cord rallies, the last in Mombasa on the afternoon prior to the Mpeketoni attack, as forums for “frenzied political rhetoric laced with ethnic profiling of some Kenyan communities and obvious acts of incitement to lawlessness and possible violence.”

An interesting gist of the president’s statement was that the Cord rallies set out to demonise certain communities and incite other Kenyans to violence against them.

This is a clear reference to the president’s own Kikuyu community, who have borne the brunt of attacks at the Cord rallies for allegedly monopolizing key positions in the public service, and to some extent also the Kalenjin community of Deputy President William Ruto.

The suggestion, then, was that the Mpeketoni attack was not just a random action, but one targeted directly at the Kikuyu, a unique majority population in the settlement scheme established in the 1960 in the Coast region by President Jomo Kenyatta.

The reference to ethnic profiling and deliberate targeting of the Kikuyu stood out in the statements from both Present Kenyatta and Mr ole Lenku.

The interesting thing is that the allusions to an ethnic angle predate the Mpeketoni attack.

In the run-up to Mr Odinga’s much-hyped return from the US at the end of May, Jubilee social media activists went into overdrive on Twitter and Facebook in what looked like a coordinated offensive to depict the Kikuyu under attack.

Early in May, four people died when a Chania Bus Services bus that had just arrived in Mombasa was hit in a grenade attack.

Soon after in Nairobi, four more people were killed in bomb attacks on two buses plying the busy Thika Highway that links the capital city and Central Kenya.

Then in the middle of May, the busy open-air Gikomba in Nairobi famous for imported second-hand clothes was hit in a deadly bomb attack that killed about a dozen people.

That seemed to serve as a signal for the social media offensive pushing the common thread that the three attacks, Chania Bus, Thika Road and Gikomba market targeted Kikuyu interests, and therefore could not have been perpetrated by Al Shabbab terrorists who have little interests in partisan Kenyan politics.

The near unanimous conclusion from the social media deluge seemed to be that the three attacks must have been the outcome of a domestic political agenda that seeks to undermine the leadership of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto.

At about the same time as the Gikomba attack, some key western nations, notably the US and Britain, upgraded their travel advisories on Kenya, cautioning their citizens of the threat of terrorist attacks and specifically warning against travel to the popular tourist resorts at the Coast.

Economic sabotage

Images of British tour companies evacuating their clients from the Coast as a result of the warning were widely broadcast internationally, giving the impression of a country under the threat of imminent attack and facing complete security breakdown.

The government, understandably, was furious, insisting that it had not been not informed of any specific threat. It took the advisories, especially the evacuations, as deliberate sabotage of the lucrative tourism industry.

An angry President Kenyatta publicly denounced the travel warning and said that the western tourists were free to go as Kenya could source tourists elsewhere.

It happened that the bad blood between Kenya and Western governments over the travel advisories came in the wake of the highly successful state visit by Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang.

Soon enough the blogosphere was abuzz with conspiracy theories suggesting that the travel advisories amounted to deliberate ‘economic sabotage’ as western retaliation for Kenya’s growing business links with China.

The spate of financing and infrastructure development agreements sealed by President Kenyatta and Premier Li were cited as evidence that the West had reason to punish Kenya after losing out on lucrative deals it previously monopolised.

At around the same time, Cord was beating the drums for Mr Odinga’s anticipated return from the US, which was to be marked by a major rally at Uhuru Park.

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