ODM leader Raila Odinga has turned the heat on Deputy President William Ruto over claims that the ‘deep state’ was plotting his political downfall.
Raila yesterday said Ruto had inside knowledge of who the ‘Deep State’ he has been referring to is.
He said the system the DP accuses of plotting his political downfall is not a faceless entity, and if there was anyone who would know about it, it was Ruto given the status of the Deputy President's office.
“You know where I am. I hold no position in government. The government is led by the president whose name you know and his deputy whose name you also know. So if you are talking about the Deep State, who is there? It’s the president and his deputy,” Raila declared.
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He went on: “Ask the DP which deep state he is talking about. As ODM, we are not in government so we don’t know about this so-called deep state.”
Ruto’s remarks on Tuesday that he was being persecuted by the ‘deep state’ and the ‘system’ that did not want him to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta sparked varied reactions.
“We are threatened that there is a system. That there is a deep state. That even if you vote, there will be people who will rig our vote. That there are people who will sit somewhere and decide. We are waiting for those people and that system and the deep state. They will come with that system and deep state but we will come with the people and God,” the DP said.
Ruto said similar tactics had been used during the 2013 campaign when he teamed up with Uhuru at a time they faced crimes against humanity charges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague.
President Kenyatta’s allies have, however, dismissed Ruto’s claims, accusing him of laying the ground to reject the 2022 election outcome.
Cotu Secretary General Francis Atwoli and Interior PS Karanja Kibicho have termed the DP’s claims outrageous given he is the second in command in the Jubilee administration.
Atwoli challenged Ruto to resign for making such claims, saying the claims are a direct attack on Uhuru.
Ruto’s Tuesday comments came just days after Raila’s elder brother, Oburu Odinga, claimed the ODM chief had finally won the backing of the system, which was the single most important factor missing in Raila’s previous presidential bids.
“Why have we not gone to State House when we have won the vote twice? It is because there was something we were missing called the system,” Oburu said.
But Raila yesterday said he was an outsider in government and it was Ruto who would know who and what the deep state was about.
Meanwhile, Raila said the country will hold a referendum before the 2022 polls. He said the process will cost less than Sh2 billion. He also said concerns that holding a referendum would be too expensive were founded on the inflated cost of previous elections which, according to him, were riddled with corruption.
“Elections in Kenya have become too expensive because there is corruption involved. It costs more than Sh40 billion to conduct an election. A repeat presidential election where no new ballot papers were printed sank another Sh10 billion. That is basically stealing,” Raila said.
The ODM leader said Kenya had enough money to run a well-managed referendum that did not cost more than Sh2 billion.
“A referendum does not need to cost more than Sh2 billion, so we should not be told that Kenya has no money to do hold a referendum. There is money and we will show (IEBC chairman Wafula) Chebukati how to do it,” Raila said.
He said the referendum would help the country improve its governance structures.
The ODM chief spoke at Chungwa House in Lavington after overseeing the swearing in of new party elections board and disciplinary committee members. Ben Sihanya is the new chairman of the disciplinary committee?, while Catherine Muyeka will lead the elections board.
Raila said he and Uhuru were ready to receive the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report, which contains proposals to amend the Constitution.
He hinted that the BBI process would gather pace in the coming days even as he expressed optimism that Kenya would triumph over the Covid–19 pandemic.
“There has been speculation over what is contained in the report and when it is going to be handed to us. Uhuru and I are going to receive the report and we will make it public,” he said.
The BBI taskforce led by Garissa Senator Yusuf Haji announced on June 30 that it had completed its report and would hand the much-awaited document to the two leaders. But that is yet to happen. Raila said issues that were raised by Kenyans when the BBI taskforce was collecting views would be addressed in the report.
The ODM leader also took issue with suggestions to conduct a referendum together with elections in 2022. He said that was impractical and would confuse voters.
“Why are we being told to do it together with the election where there will be six ballot papers? Do we want a seventh? That will not work. We will do it before the next election,” he said. Chebukati said it would require Sh12 billion to conduct a referendum.
“As to the issue of how much, we are informed by the cost of the repeat presidential election of October 26, 2017, which cost Sh12 billion. With a referendum being one election, the cost would be similar or thereabout,” the chairman said in a past interview.
Funding has been a subject of discussion after the Treasury failed to factor in money for the exercise in the current Budget.
Chebukati, in another interview, allayed fears of a lack of allocation, saying a plebiscite is not an activity that is budgeted for in advance.
A similar explanation had been given by Deputy Parliamentary Budget Office Director Martin Masinde, who said a supplementary budget could still be approved for the exercise.
Some politicians led by Raila have been pushing to have a plebiscite by this year to ensure electoral reforms ahead of 2022.
In an interview with a local television station, Raila said the country was still in a position to hold a referendum by December.
“We are thinking we may be in a position to do a referendum by end of November or sometime in December,” said Raila.
Backers of BBI had – before the outbreak of the coronavirus disease – been pushing for a referendum by mid this year.
– Additional reporting by Moses Nyamori