President Uhuru Kenyatta appealed to personal emotions as he explained to Kisii leaders the pain that prompted his angry reaction to the Supreme Court ruling that nullified his August 8 election victory.
Keen to push back the narrative by Opposition leader Raila Odinga that his criticism of Chief Justice David Maraga - who alongside three other judges nullified the election result - was an attack on his community, Uhuru said he was human and reacted as anyone would when something treasured is taken away from them.
The meeting with a delegation of more than 15,000 members of the Abagusii community at State House Nakuru was apparently a bid to quell a political backlash from a region where he had made significant gains in the August 8 presidential vote at the expense of his main rival, Raila, who has sought to turn the tide against him ahead of the October 17 repeat vote.
In the nullified election, Uhuru secured 174,213 votes (43 per cent) while Raila won by 223,155 (55 per cent) in Kisii County, which has 546,682 registered voters.
But it was a gain for Uhuru considering that in the 2013 elections, Raila swept the county by garnering 236,831 or 67 per cent of the vote as Uhuru polled 95,596 or 27 per cent.
This year, Uhuru narrowly won in Nyamira County by 106,508 or 52 per cent, while Raila garnered 95,227 or 46 per cent. Nyamira has 278,853 registered voters.
Raila lost the region given that in 2013, the Orange Democratic Movement leader won by securing 121,590 or 66 per cent against Uhuru’s 54,071 (29 per cent).
The inroads made by Jubilee in Gusii region were critical in their campaign strategy for re-election, which would explain Uhuru’s charm offensive yesterday as he tried to undo the likely political backlash from the criticism of Maraga that Raila and NASA have portrayed as an attack on the community.
The President said the decision by the four Supreme Court judges to nullify his presidential election win was the most painful moment of his life. He explained that his attack on Maraga and the three judges was justified because he believed the highest court in the land erred in ruling in favour of the petitioner.
“It was painful for me to accept the decision. I’m a human being and I was angry at Maraga and the Supreme Court, not the Abagusii community as my political competitor would want you to believe,” said the President, who maintained that he accepted the court’s decision but would never agree with the judges.
He said his reaction to the ruling was natural and he had to defend himself and the win lest Kenyans thought he was part of a wider conspiracy to rig the elections, as claimed by NASA.
“Had I not come out and attacked the Supreme Court ruling and defended my win; had I kept quiet, people would have thought I was part of the alleged rigging of the elections,” he said.
Ready for re-run
“Just imagine a thief is caught with your cow and then the court rules that the police did not record the crime – so the cow cannot be yours,” he said by way of explaining his pain.
Uhuru clarified that he had no problem with the community but had an issue with Maraga and the three judges who nullified his election.
“I know I won the election. It was painful when the court nullified my win. But I am ready for the re-run and I want you people to vote for me,” said the President.
Uhuru took a swipe at Raila for what he described as “trying to drive a wedge between me and the community by claiming my attack against the Supreme Court was a direct affront on Justice Maraga because he comes from the Abagusii community”.
“Our competitors went all the way to Kisii and Nyamira counties to sell their tribal agenda to you that I was against Mr Maraga because he is Kisii. No! That is not the truth. He (Raila) thrives on ethnic politics. Let me be honest with you, I have no problem with the Abagusii people but I have an issue with Maraga’s ruling,” he said