BY NZAU MUSAU
DEPUTY Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta turned the tables on the ODM and Prime Minister Raila Odinga at the ICC yesterday accusing them of planting the seeds of the post-election violence before the December 27, 2007 election. Uhuru who took the stand as his own witness underwent a meticulous cross examination by his lawyer Steven Kay in which he said he left the ODM movement after noting that it was bent on violence and Raila was not helping matters.
Cross-examined by Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo, Uhuru said Raila bore political responsibility for the violence as he was the ODM party leader and did not stop the inflammatory statements coming from his party members and officials before and after the violence began. “I believe he who bears responsibility is the leader.
He could have given direction. He was the flag bearer,” Uhuru said in response to Ocampo’s question on the role of the ODM Pentagon which included Raila, William Ruto, Najib Balala, Charity Ngilu and Joseph Nyaga and Musalia Mudavadi. Uhuru testified to his own character as a peacemaker and narrated how he had conceded defeat even before the final results were announced in the 2002 election.
He said he was under great pressure not to concede defeat but that he did so to stave off budding tensions and avoid “crowds marching into State House to take over.” “There was a feeling amongst us that the direction the movement was taking was that of tensions among the many ethnic groups. This was the feeling among those of us coming from Kanu whose vision since independence is centered on unity of all Kenyans,” he told the court.
Uhuru said that although Majimbo which the ODM party professed means federalism, majority of the ODM supporters at the grassroots had interpreted it to mean that certain regions belonged to certain communities. He said that is why he feared the policy during the 2007 election. He said he was opposed to the policy because he felt the country was moving towards greater regional integration and therefore the only decentralisation that was needed was of a fiscal nature to open up all areas of the country to economic development.
He said Kanu’s national executive council resolved that the party should ditch ODM and support President Kibaki’s nascent PNU. However some of the Kanu members opted to support ODM. “Not all Kanu members left, some remained and Kanu sort of split up.” He said that prior to the elections, ODM bigwigs were quoted all over the media claiming there was a plot to rig the elections and calling for mass action to violently reject the results of the presidential elections.
He denied that he held meetings at Blue Post Hotel in Thika and other hotels in November 2007 to plot the violence. He however conceded that he could have been at some of the venues indicated as he, like many other party leaders, was forced to hold meetings outside party headquarters due to the chaos caused by the nominations. He was however categorical that he never held any meeting with any politicians or Mungiki leaders at Yaya Centre as Ocampo has claimed. He admitted visiting the Yaya Centre shopping mall with his wife and children and said he did not know whether there were offices there.
Uhuru denied meeting with Mungiki leaders on November 25 2007 at State House. He said on that day, there was a youth rally held in Uhuru Park and attended by President Kibaki. He said that he went home immediately after the rally as he was tired after campaigning in Bomet earlier in the day.
Uhuru denied Ocampo’s claims that he attended yet another meeting with Mungiki at State House the next day,November 26,2007. According to Ocampo, Head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura and leaders of the Mungiki also attended. Uhuru has said the meeting was for the youth to present their charter to the president. “I did not attend any meeting with Mungiki at State House on that date or any other date. The State House event was organized by the “Kibaki Tena” group and Kanu only had one representative there in the name of Badi Ali,” he said.
He said from the clip played by the defence of the State House youth event, he could only recognize Ali and the current deputy ambassador to UN Habitat, Yvonne Khamati who was part of his campaign team. Uhuru said on November 26 when he is alleged to have been at State House with Mungiki leaders, he was at the KICC attending a PNU event which he recalled was ‘marred with confusion and had to be abandoned.”
Uhuru distanced himself from the Mungiki and denied being a member of the sect. He said the sect’s support for his 2002 presidential bid was “unsolicited” and played a clip showing sect members burning his effigy and denouncing him for betraying them. He said he had throughout his political career denounced the Mungiki because of their criminal activities. He claimed the sect members had burnt his effigy as they blamed him for a state crackdown on sect members.
Questioned by Ocampo, Uhuru said he had no idea why sect members would want to implicate him in connection with the post election violence. He vehemently denied suggestions by Ocampo that Kanu had switched to Mungiki for support after loosing out on ethnic politics. This was a suggestion that was contained in an article authored in the early 200s by Prof Peter Kagwanja whom he describe as an employee and advisor of the PNU and not his advisor.
“Only the author of the article Prof Kagwanja can explain. Their (Mungiki) support was unsolicited and in fact they did not offer it. When they sought our party’s candidacy we rejected them. We rejected Maina Njenga and Ndura Waruinge because we did not want to be associated with them,” he said.