Men with greatest responsibility as country teeters on brink of anarchy

Azimio leader Raila Odinga, President William Ruto and his deputy Rigathi Gachagua. [Standard]

As the country enters into the third demonstration called by Azimio la Umoja coalition, six men carry the heaviest responsibility of ensuring stability is maintained.

The past two demonstrations have degenerated into running battles between protesters and police, with Monday taking a dramatic turn following invasion of property belonging to the family of founding President Jomo Kenyatta.

During the protests, hundreds of traders have borne the brunt of property destruction, looting and losses occasioned by closed businesses. Schools have been closed in worst hit areas of Nairobi and Kisumu when on action days and transport paralysed.  

Sources indicated the situation has attracted the interests of the international community where envoys from a number of countries in the West met with Azimio leader Raila Odinga on Sunday for two and a half hours in a Nairobi hotel, where they implored him to call off the demonstrations.

On Wednesday, a US delegation led by Senator for Delaware Christopher Andrew Coons separately met top political leadership in the country, among them Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, former President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila, interceding for peace in the country among other things.  

At the same time, eight foreign countries represented in Nairobi issued a joint public statement calling on all leaders and Kenyans to maintain peace, show restraint and work towards a swift resolution for the common good of the country.

“As friends and partners to Kenya, we are deeply concerned by the recent unrest and violence as well as the destruction of places of worship and private property. It is also damaging economic activity at a time of significant financial challenges,” the embassies of Australia, Canada, Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, UK and US said.

But the Azimio leader stuck to his guns, saying the third leg of the demos would be more organised minus police interference and failure to provide security. 

“The demonstrations today will be bigger and well organised than the previous two,” said Raila while addressing religious leaders from Kibra at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation in Nairobi.

As the situation continues to escalate, wisdom and sobriety are in high demand, especially for the men who carry the burden of steering the country.

Through their actions or inactions today and in coming days, President William Ruto who is out of the country on a four-day trip to Germany and Belgium, his DP Gachagua, and Raila bear the greatest responsibility. Other notable stakeholders in the current imbroglio are Interior and National Administration Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki, Inspector General of police Japheth Koome and Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji.

In the dicey situation, President Ruto needs to take charge of all government pronouncements in regard to the demonstrations. He also needs to tame hardliners from making utterances that could put his government on a collision course with the former president and the Azimio leader and likely to raise political tension.

On Tuesday, President Ruto, while in Berlin meeting Kenyans living in Germany, said all Kenyans must submit to the rule of law and would ensure everyone’s life, property, and business are protected.

“We have deliberately offered the police operational and financial independence to work. It is their duty to ensure that everyone adheres to the rule of law,” he said. 

 Police independence

The President however seemed to put Koome to task insisting he had deliberately offered the police operational and financial independence to work. 

Ruto said it is incumbent upon the Inspector General of Police to decide on how to secure Kenya. “It is their duty to ensure that everyone adheres to the rule of law,” said Ruto.

In recent past, Gachagua has vowed to deal with the former President’s business interest giving a deadline of three months. On Saturday in Kirinyaga County, where MPs from Mt Kenya recognised the DP as the top-ranked leader in the region, he said there are people paying Raila for the demonstrations.

“These people sponsoring Raila should stop living in denial. Raila lost and there is nothing they can do,” said the DP. In late January, after Raila indicated he will call for demonstrations and called for a big rally in Kamukunji to speak about an alleged dossier detailing how the presidential election was stolen, Gachagua shot back and asked President Ruto to allow him to deal with the Azimio leader. 

“One of my duties is to defend the president.....Mr President please allow me to deal with that man (Raila)....I am the real son of Mau Mau,” Gachagua said.

Such remarks did not to go down well with allies of both Uhuru and Raila.

For Gachagua, he has the responsibility of shutting down remarks that could bring animosity to various communities living in Nairobi.

In the absence of the President, the DP while in control should steer the country into stability.

For Raila, his protests have in some cases almost thrown the country into anarchy given that property has been destroyed during the demonstrations.

Raila has to ensure the protests are peaceful and no destruction of property.

He must come out and condemn strongly the destruction of property and monitors utterances in public rallies that could trigger political unrest.

Kindiki, though the security docket lies with him, has maintained a studious silence leaving a typical case of the age-old Japanese adage “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”. 

His docket has the muscle to control the loss of lives and property and in the last week, he has not made any significant comments when there was a such loss as a result his silence has raised questions about his readiness to confront the tumult in the country. 

Koome, just five months in office is a man on the hot seat given that he is expected to ensure calm in the country at all times.

In the two previous demonstrations, his officers have been attacked in the fierce running battles but they have also used excessive force against demonstrators and at times journalists.

On Sunday, he came under attack from the opposition after he declared their protest illegal and gave the police firm instructions to disperse them.

“Let them try because we are ready for them, We will not spare anyone, those demonstrations are illegal and I can assure you we are not going to allow them to take place,” Koome said.

The IG was on Tuesday put on the spot by the President who claimed that the ultimate responsibility for security matters fell under him.

“Today the Inspector General of Police is solely responsible for both the operations and the financial requirements of the police operations. The police force should make independent decisions on what they want to do to secure the country,” the President directed the force.

Mr Haji’s role is to ensure perpetrators of the violence and insecurity are prosecuted. The DPP on Monday wrote to the IG asking him to probe looting, destruction of property witnessed during the demonstrations.