Ruto: Military was roped in election-rigging plot

The president did not state whether investigations were underway against KDF officers, only saying that the story of August 15 would one day be told. The said date witnessed the announcement of Ruto as the victor of the election, an exercise marred with chaos.

"The events of August 15 were horrible because even the military, a sacred institution, had been roped into the scheme to sabotage the will of the people because of state capture," the president said during a joint TV interview at State House, Nairobi, on Wednesday, responding to questions on why he was yet to establish a quasi-judicial inquiry into cronyism and state capture, which he had promised to do in his first 30 days in office.

Delicate balances

And he would say the fact that action was yet to be taken against officers allegedly involved in what he has previously termed a subversion attempt was tactical, owing to the balances that he said he must now make as president.

"The day the story of August 15 will be told in Kenya you will know why I am delaying... because I now have to balance between 'do I sort out the economy or do I swing this big thing that will drain our energy," Ruto said, insisting that the story of "state capture would be told one day".

"If you were sitting where I am sitting you would know why I have to go slow on some things."

While Ruto's statements imply some sort of reluctance on his part to pursue the matter, they, equally, convey a message that he will not let it go.

Constitutional lawyer Bobby Mkangi thinks that the president could have decided to go slow on any action because he intends to cool political waters. "These things tend to be double-edged swords. They can have grave implications on the direction the president and the country takes," he said. Mkangi said there are laws and conventions that govern disciplinary measures within the military that must be followed.

"The president has silent power that when he directs his crosshairs at a certain office then he can have the officer vacate office," he added. "These are some of the tactical resignations that we have witnessed, such as in the case of George Kinoti." The president's allies have sustained a push for investigations into the alleged plot to rig last year's election.

The said push sparked the motion to have four commissioners of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) investigated over their role in the alleged plan to "subvert the will of the people."

'Rebel' poll officials

Three former commissioners - former vice-chairperson Juliana Cherera, Francis Wanderi and Justus Nyang'aya - resigned from office to avoid facing a tribunal chaired by Justice Aggrey Muchelule probing their conduct during the elections. Commissioner Irene Masit stayed put and has faced the tribunal, which will decide whether she will remain in the IEBC. But allies of the president insisted that action would be taken on the former commissioners despite their resignation in case of any wrongdoing, suggesting plans to further pursue the matter.

Azimio leader Raila Odinga recently called for an audit to uncover the alleged fraud that took place during the elections.

In a recent interview, university don Macharia Munene called for establishment of a Johann Kriegler-like commission of inquiry.

"Kenyans want to know what happened at Bomas," he said of the August 15, 2022 chaos.

While Mkangi agrees that a commission of inquiry may be set up through Parliament, he says that it needs to be properly structured.

"It must have guidelines on the scope of various issues such as the Bomas visit, the chaos and a possible security breach," the lawyer said. "That can be attained without ruffling extra-constitutional and constitutional issues." He warned that the scope should not include matters already adjudicated by the Supreme Court.

Political commentator Dismas Mokua said the president should follow through with the plan to set up a commission of inquiry on State capture. "Such a commission will establish the raison d'etre of national and policy decisions. Such a commission will seek to establish if private interests influenced state decisions and policy making infrastructure at the expense of national and public interest," he said. South Africa set up a similar commission to investigate allegations of state capture under former president Jacob Zuma.

Also on the president's warpath was the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), with Ruto fingering former DCI boss Kinoti for alleged atrocities committed by the police.

Contrary to a previous statement in which Ruto said Kinoti had resigned from office, the president said he fired the former DCI boss, over alleged executions perpetrated by the police, citing the River Yala killings that shocked the nation last year.

"There was a container at Nairobi Area where people were being slaughtered - inside a police station!" he exclaimed. "What kind of rogue institution (is that)? And that is why I fired that Kinoti man."

Ruto and Kinoti have been in perennial wrangles in the past, trading words in public.

In the 2022 campaign season, the president accused Kinoti of being the Executive's attack dog, who was allegedly used to frustrate his allies.

Ruto said that the criminal justice system had been captured by former President Uhuru Kenyatta's regime, alleging the use of threats against politicians in the formation of Raila's Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya coalition party. Some of these threats, he would say, also included one against Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji.

"The DPP had been told to hand in his resignation if he refused to prosecute this case and this case," Ruto claimed. "It was an ugly situation and I pray that Kenya never goes back to a place where the criminal justice system is used to manipulate politics."

Haji, who is under criticism for withdrawing high-profile corruption cases, said in October last year that he had been pressured to prosecute some cases. And Ruto would deny influencing the spate of case withdrawals witnessed in the first few months of his presidency, such as Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua's corruption case and Labour Cabinet Secretary Aisha Jumwa's murder charge, blaming the collapse on the alleged influence of the criminal justice system. He said he would not deploy the security apparatus in his favour.

"If there are any signs that my office is using those institutions then it (I) should be called out," he added.

Mkangi said political goodwill would go a long way in ensuring independent institutions, such as the Office of the DPP, take separate positions.

"What we need is to break the culture of Executive hegemony that leaves institutions under the whims of the office holders," he says. "I would not be quick to judge those who have claimed to have faced intimidation because of the dark history of our country."

Ruto said more action would follow Kinoti's sacking. When he assumed office, Ruto ordered the disbandment of the DCI Special Service Unit, which the president blames for alleged extra-judicial killings.

Missing Indians

Nine officers from the unit were last year arrested for their alleged role in the disappearance of two Indian nationals, Zulfiqar Ahmad Khan and Mohamed Zaid Sami Kidwai, and their taxi driver Nicodemus Mwania, with others summoned for questioning.

In November the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (Ipoa) recommended the charging of Pangani police officer Rashid Ahmed for the murder of two of his suspected victims Jamal Mohamed and Mohamed Dhair Kheri in broad daylight in 2017.

The president said he had had "a thorough meeting" with the Ipoa officials, with whom he had agreed against the necessity of forming a task force when the investigations into the River Yala and Tana River killings were "squarely within their mandate." He did not commit to investigations by the police into killings that were possibly not extra-judicial. In keeping with the onslaught on "state capture",

Ruto suggested that government officials in Uhuru's regime had waived taxes for their businesses, citing big banks that merged with others.

Another revelation the president made was the subdivision of the Galana/Kulalu irrigation scheme land into settlement parcels, which he has since revoked.