Unproven claims by top leaders recipe for trouble

Politicians should careful not to incite the public with their statements. [iStockphoto]

Fresh from a trip to South Africa, Azimio leader Raila Odinga yesterday addressed a crowd of his supporters at the Kamukunji grounds in Nairobi over allegations that the August 2022 presidential election was rigged in favour of William Ruto.

The Azimio leadership had disputed the presidential vote outcome after the elections and lodged a petition at the Supreme Court. This week, Azimio claimed Raila was the winner of the election and cited evidence provided by an anonymous whistleblower allegedly within the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

According to documents supposedly availed by the whistleblower, Raila garnered 8,170,355 votes while Ruto got 5,919,973 votes.

Unsubstantiated claims by an anonymous whistleblower cannot be the basis for laying claim to electoral victory. Unfortunately, they can mislead opposition supporters into believing that Raila actually won, and that can cause tension.

If Azimio has proof that Raila won, there are channels that can be followed to seek justice using the evidence they claim to have. Holding a rally at Kamukunji grounds should be the last option.

Azimio is not alone in causing confusion within the public sphere. The Kenya Kwanza top brass has a slew of its own unsubstantiated, if not unfounded, claims. President Ruto recently alleged publicly that there was a plot by the previous regime, including a section of the military, to deny him victory.

Further, he has alleged that there was another plot to abduct and kill IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati. Such statements are unfortunate, coming from the president, and have the potential to cause tension and divide a country that is trying to heal.

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua has also made similar statements, including the latest one in which he claimed the former Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) chief wanted Denis Itumbi killed and that he, the DCI, was behind Itumbi's abduction.

While Gachagua keeps on invoking 'Mau Mau' in his desire to tame Raila, it does not help that the latter urged his supporters to reject the 2022 elections, regarding the Kenya Kwanza government as illegitimate and refuse to recognise President Ruto's government.

Statements such as these by the president, his deputy and the opposition chief are serious and cannot be dismissed entirely. However, should worry all peace-loving Kenyans that they are made in public.

If the trio know who are behind the serious crimes they purport to have been committed against them, they know the right thing to do. The public cannot be their adjudicator. We are governed by the rule of law. There are institutions in place - within and without our borders - to deal with the alleged crimes.

Whipping public emotions with the hard-to-substantiate allegations may aid the politicians' short-term interests but might have serious repercussions. Politicians should careful not to incite the public with their statements.

Kenyans are going through hard economic times and do not need any more sideshows. Telling them about alleged murder plots and purportedly rigged elections can only make their lives more miserable.