December 19, 2014

Raila alleges plot to rig polls in favor of Uhuru

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Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s Cord Coalition has questioned the neutrality of top public service and security officials and claims their activities risk compromising the integrity of the March 4 General Election.

The PM’s campaign secretariat on Saturday pointed a finger at head of Public Service Francis Kimemia, whom they accused of backing “one candidate”.

Mr Odinga is locked in a tight race for State House with Jubilee Coalition candidate Uhuru Kenyatta.

Mr Odinga’s campaign team alleged that Chief of Defence Forces Julius Karangi, National Intelligence Service director-general Michael Gichangi and Mr Kimemia were “actively involved” in campaigns of Mr Kenyatta’s The National Alliance.

“They are involved in partisan activities aimed at influencing the elections in favour of one of the presidential candidates and/or against one candidate,” read a statement signed by Mr Eliud Owalo, the head of Mr Odinga’s campaign secretariat.

Cord claimed to have “irrefutable evidence” of Mr Kimemia’s alleged involvement in the campaigns claiming he was giving instructions to district, provincial and county commissioners to seek votes for a presidential candidate.

Odinga’s team also claimed that some ambassadors and principal secretaries had been recruited into the campaign.

Jubilee leader Uhuru Kenyatta dismissed the claims, saying his opponents were creating excuses because they sensed they had fallen behind in the race for State House:

“The baseless allegations from the Cord group are characteristic of a team that has sensed defeat and is now clutching at straws,” read a statement to newsrooms sent by Mr Kenyatta’s spokesman Munyori Buku.

“They are losing this election, and they know it for a fact. For the record, the Jubilee campaign is self-propelling and supported by millions of Kenyans.”

Mr Odinga’s statement comes at a time when opinion polls predict a close race between the leading candidates.

The allegations effectively turn the spotlight on the security agencies which came under scrutiny for what the Waki Commission on post-election violence considered as their partisan involvement in the controversial 2007 elections.

Mr Odinga’s team also claimed that members of the provincial administration had been directed to draw up a strategy of suppressing voter turnout against one candidate.

The statement comes barely two days after Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka’s Wiper Party complained to the electoral commission that Mr Kimemia had instructed the provincial administration to support Jubilee’s Charity Ngilu for the Kitui Senate seat.

Mr David Musila, the Wiper chairman who wrote the letter, is in a tight contest with Mrs Ngilu, one of the Jubilee principals.

Mr Musila, the Defence assistant minister, said the party feared the outcome of the elections would “certainly not be free and fair” should the electoral commission fail to intervene, and planned to raise the matter with international observers.

“We want to take the opportunity to inform them that the Office of the President intends to use public officers to campaign for candidates of Jubilee and to rig the election in favour of this coalition.”

However, Mr Kimemia on Saturday denied any involvement by the provincial administration in campaigns. He said that civil servants have been warned not to engage in political activities or else they would face disciplinary action.

Mr Kimemia said he had sent a circular to that effect.

“I wish to remind you that it is an electoral offence for any public servant to be engaged in politics. The requirement for non-participation in politics must be strictly adhered to by all public servants. The relevant arms of government are under instructions to work closely with the IEBC to ensure compliance with this requirement,” said the circular dated February 11 and copied to permanent secretaries, provincial commissioners, the electoral commission, the Inspector-General of Police and the Director of Public Prosecutions.

On Saturday, he said that Jubilee had raised similar grievances that public servants had been instructed to campaign for their opponents.

He said he wrote the circular following allegations and counter-accusations by political parties that some public servants may be partisan.

In their statement, Cord claimed that Mr Kimemia recently met six permanent secretaries in Elementaita (in Nakuru County) and advised them to support Jubilee.

“Mr Gichangi has been part of various strategy meetings held at various places including at Pizza Garden, Nairobi (on December 20, 2012) and Outspan Hotel in Nyeri on December 15, 2012 with the same aim. One of the most recent activities were meetings held on February 7, 2013 at General Karangi’s office at the Department of Defence headquarters.”

Asked for a comment on the claims, Gen Karangi said he had none.-Daily Nation

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