Uhuru Kenyatta shifts blame to Raila Odinga over 2008 post-poll killings and chaos

President Uhuru Kenyatta greets the public during his tour to persuade Gusii voters to turn up in large numbers and vote for Jubilee Party in the August General Election. [Photo: Denish Ochieng/ Standard]

President Uhuru Kenyatta Wednesday reignited controversy over the 2007/8 post-election violence that saw him and his deputy William Ruto appear before the International Criminal Court.

Speaking in Kisii County, Uhuru said Opposition leader Raila Odinga, who rejected the election results, played a role in the chaos that claimed over 1,133 lives.

"He was the one who ignited the flames that set Kenya on fire in 2007 when he promoted the politics of what he called 40 tribes against one and later blamed (William) Ruto," the President told the public in a rally also attended by Mr Ruto. "Yeye (Raila) ndiye aliwasha moto," he added.

Addressing the public at Nyaturago Stadium in Nyaribari Chache, Kisii County, President Kenyatta claimed Raila was once again deploying the same politics he used in 2007 ahead of the August 8 polls.

"Now he is talking about 40 against two," said the President, as he dismissed claims that the Jubilee administration had excluded some communities from Government.

Raila has denied any role in the poll violence that saw six leaders including Uhuru and Ruto indicted by ICC.The two faced charges of crimes against humanity among others.

Others included former Industrialisation Minister Henry Kosgey, former Police Commissioner Hussein Ali, former Head of Public Service Francis Muthaura and journalist Joshua sang.

In one of his strongest attacks on Raila in recent times, Uhuru accused the ODM leader and his Opposition colleagues of 'wasting' the country's 25 valuable years in fighting development with no tangible alternatives.

He said he had lots of respect for Raila and had decided not to answer him over his continued attacks of his government. The President, who was on a tour of the Gusii region, said the current Opposition leaders wasted 25 years of the country's economic period engaging in bad politics.

"We need to catch up and fill the 25-year gap this country lost due to negative politics," said Uhuru.

Lagged development

He said Kenya would have made big strides in development had it not been for what he described as negative politics. "We would have been at the same level with the economies of Asian tigers were it not for the 25 years of bad politics fronted by some leaders, including Raila," said Uhuru.

He said Opposition leaders Musali Mudavadi, Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetang'ula had an opportunity to serve the country on different ministerial positions but failed to do so adding that Jubilee was rectifying the mistakes made by them.

The President urged Kenyans to forgive one another but hold on to what happened as a reminder so as not to slide back to the same problems.

"We all understand what happened in 2007 but we must be ready to rectify and stop the negative politics. Let's not talk about it but be ready to learn from the past mistakes," he said at the rally.

But in a quick rejoinder, Raila dismissed the Presidents claims as unfortunate and cries of a desperate leader.

"I have learnt of claims by President Uhuru Kenyatta, while visiting Kisii earlier today, that I played a central role in the 2007/2008 post-election violence and that I am responsible for Kenya's stagnation. We understand the desperation of the President for something to hang on to re-energise his depressed 2013 voting block," said Raila.

He added: "We advise the President to look around his entourage as he visits Kisii and also look into the mirror if he is interested in the truth on the 2007/2008 violence."

In a statement sent to newsrooms, Raila reminded the President that the Gusii region he visited for two days was littered with post-election violence victims who are yet to be compensated.

"The victims include a widow who had only her husband's skull to bury. We hope the President has had time to ask whether she has been at his rallies and if she believes his story," he said.

He accused the President of turning a blind eye to the webs of corruption controlled by his immediate family and friends.

On claims that Raila and his Opposition colleagues were responsible for what the President termed as 25 years of wastage, Raila said: "The President needs to look no further than his family and associates assembled corruptly using public resources."

Raila, who beat President Kenyatta in the 2013 elections in Gusii region, said the community knows who to support in August.

"The Gusii people needed no lecture on who initiated the infrastructural transformation in their county. Neither do they need to be told who the high priest of corruption in the country is. They are only too aware," said the opposition leader.

Divisive politics

Earlier the President had said: "The Opposition has continued to attack me over corruption but let truth be told that they have nothing to offer this country. After I depart from Kisii, they will be here to attack me and continue with their tribal politics."

He said because of poor politics, most Kenyans have been treated to two decades of stagnated economy caused by lack of unity.

But Opposition supporters who were following the President's speech from outside the stadium burst into songs in praise of National Super Alliance (NASA) leaders soon after the President ended his speech.

They marched through Kisii streets singing praises of Governor James Ongwae who did not attend the rally. On Monday, Mr Ongwae told The Standard that the President's tour of the two counties was "nothing new".