PNU’s Coup: How Can Kenyans Fight Back?



From the look of things, it would appear that we are still a long way from resolving the serious post-election crisis that is gripping and almost crippling Kenya.

Even after Raila Odinga and the Orange Democratic Movement considerably softened their pre-conditions for internationally mediated talks with their opposite numbers by dropping their demand that Kibaki must resign, calling off a series of rallies and mass actions across the country, and lowering the decibel of their political rhetoric, Mwai Kibaki and his fellow usurpers seem set on a suicidal path to tighten their hold on the stolen public offices.

On Tuesday, January 8, 2008, the besieged Pretender President in the State House compounded the putschist, undemocratic initial injury he had inflicted on the Kenyan nation by unilaterally and illegally appointing his cronies and sidekicks to ministerial positions literally hours before African Union Chairperson John Kufuor of Ghana landed at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to mediate in scheduled talks between ODM and the Party of National Unity (PNU).

Not only did Kibaki violate Kenyan law by appointing these individuals before they had been sworn in formally as members of parliament, the Othaya MP was desperate to confront the visiting Kufuor with a fait accompli by grabbing the most powerful and strategic cabinet positions for himself and his faction.

In doing so, Kibaki also laid bare a lot of what Kenyans had been suspecting for months: Kalonzo Musyoka, the ODM-K leader and also ran presidential candidate had always been a fifth columnist amidst opposition ranks causing much rancour while still in the original ODM and bolting off to form ODM-K as a stratagem of wangling for himself the coveted VP slot.  Now every boast of Kalonzo’s about being a “peace maker” and ‘Mr. Clean Hands” rings hollow; words and phrases added to the growing hill of human turd, the self-created merde composed of his swaggering election campaign boasts of being the “most formidable opponent” of Kibaki and the “people’s servant”.

How could Kibaki’s so called “most formidable opponent” agree to be a mere junior stand-in for his alleged nemesis?

How could an alleged “peace maker” and so called “servant of the people” jump hastily into bed with someone whose criminal actions had led to so much bloodshed, ethnic acrimony, economic devastation and political uncertainty?

What is also clearly evident is that Kibaki’s move to appoint Kalonzo Musyoka as his deputy could be an advance gambit anticipating a re-run of the presidential contest where Kibaki and his schemers reckon that Kalonzo may single-handedly deliver the Akamba bloc vote.

Judging by his less than stellar showing at the just concluded parliamentary and presidential elections, it is by no means a sure bet that Kalonzo will actually live up to this lofty expectations.

Many of us in the progressive and democratic camp here in Kenya have been chastened by the emerging agenda of the United States and such multilateral global bodies as the World Bank.

A leaked memo authored by the Guyanese-born Kenya Country director of the World Bank Colin Bruce basically setting the ground for an acceptance of the Kibaki coup d’état is a very sobering reminder that, when it comes to crunch time, institutions such as the World Bank will gravitate towards the status quo.

Some of my reliable sources here in Nairobi inform me that the United States’ publicly unstated position militates against a re-run of the election, leaning more towards a negotiated power-sharing formula between Raila Odinga and Mwai Kibaki — as if the national crisis that has seen tens of thousands of democracy-seeking Kenyan protesters lash out in anger in response to the stolen presidential vote outcome could be solved by it.

It is also not very clear what the mainstream African agenda is regarding the current crisis in Kenya.

Coincident with the arrival and presence of John Kufour was the puzzling tour of ex-Presidents Kaunda of Zambia, Mkapa of Tanzania, Chissano of Mozambique, and Masire of Botswana.

Were they in Kenya to bolster or undermine the shuttle diplomacy of the Ghanaian head of state?

What is more disturbing are the personal, ideological and strategic intentions of President Yoweri Museveni from the neighbouring nation-state of Uganda.

Credible reports indicate that Ugandan troops — some of them dressed in Kenyan police uniform, some of them in civvies — have been implicated in the extra-judicial state-ordered executions of unarmed civilians in Kisumu, including many infants and minors, with some shot at close range while cowering in their own homes.

An observer in Nairobi has privately suggested to this writer that the Kibaki posse of political criminals did approach the Ugandan government expressing their insecurities about dealing with any negative fallout from within the Kenyan military establishment in the aftermath of the elections.

Museveni, according to this source, is supposed to have reassured the Kenyan head of state and his shadowy kitchen cabinet that Uganda was ready to do ANYTHING — including dispatching troops to Kenya to thwart any efforts at overturning the Kibaki civilian coup.

The observer in Nairobi is of the opinion that the main thing driving Museveni’s mother-hen attitude towards Kenya has less to do with guaranteeing Kenyan political stability than with the Ugandan president’s own megalomaniacal ambitions to be the capo di tutti capi of East and Central Africa over the next few years.  As many readers know, there is a push to consolidate the process of establishing the East African Community as an economic, legal, social, and POLITICAL entity.  Part of the provisions of that process is the creation of an East African Community President.

My source avers that Museveni sees himself as the natural-born leader who will fit that role.  M7 (as the Ugandan president is often referred to, especially in his native land) thinks that Kenya’s Raila Odinga stands in Museveni’s way because of the ODM flag-bearer’s own charisma, Pan-African appeal, and political pedigree (it never hurts to be scion/offspring of one of the Third World’s most celebrated nationalist heroes, Jaramogi Ajuma Oginga Odinga).

The observer in Nairobi is convinced that Museveni’s covert and overt (he is the only leader to have so far “recognized” the illegitimate usurper in the State House) support for Kibaki is rooted in a cynical, mid-term quid-pro-quo strategy of neutralizing any aspirants to the ultimate East African crown jewel.

I ran this hypothesis by another friend of mine, this one a highly placed individual embedded in the core of Kenya’s National Security Intelligence Service.

My NSIS contact was very skeptical about the Museveni Factor as delineated by my observer pal.

He says that, going by his own contacts within the Ugandan armed forces and intelligence agencies, there does not seem to be ANY evidence that could lift the Museveni Hypothesis above the level of wild rumour and baseless speculation.  He also doubts the reports, lately echoed by Raila Odinga himself, about the active participation of Ugandan troops in the state-engineered massacres of civilians in Kisumu.

I will leave my readers to use their own discretion to interrogate and verify the veracity or lack thereof of these serious allegations regarding the role played by President Museveni in the current Kenyan crisis.

Nevertheless, my spooky intelligence pal shared with me something else:

He told me that there is a high level of uncertainty and even mild dissent within the armed forces, the regular police, and other elements of the Kenyan state security apparatus.

He claims that the wildly refuted SMS rumours which speculated that Kenya’s army chief and the police commissioner had resigned around New Year’s Day were NOT totally baseless because there had been heightened pressures within the ranks on the duo that the military and the police should not be seen to be condoning Kibaki’s electoral grand larceny.

The NSIS Deep Throat also told me that overall morale within the armed forces has been lowered considerably and that there are more and more middle-ranking officers who are quitting the Kenyan military to pursue soldier-of-fortune opportunities in places like Iraq or take up private civilian security consulting gigs within the country — a trend that he evaluates as not being in the best interests of the Kibaki junta.

My shadowy source also asserted that the MAJORITY of the members of the REGULAR police are OPENLY sympathetic to ODM and that could be one reason why the Michukis and Murages opted for members of the dreaded GSU and the Administration Police together with the elements from the National Youth Service as the storm troopers to protect the illegal installation of Mwai Kibaki.  Even here he says that many of those young people dressed up in those fierce-looking riot gear are actually NOT GSU but AP and NYS personnel because the commander of the Administration Police is allegedly closer to the kitchen cabinet cabal than the other police heads.

Again what I am purveying here is a perspective from one individual.  Whether what he is saying is true or not is subject to further investigation and verification.

There are so many things which have been happening in Nairobi that are yet to make it to the public domain.  For instance, we are told that immediately after the polls, former President Moi (with or without some of his kids) boarded a plane bound for Germany.  Upon his arrival, the authorities in that European state loaded him promptly on another Nairobi bound flight, barring his presence in Germany.

Moving away from that angle, I want to examine the options ahead for the Kenya democratic movement.

Many of us heaved a sigh of relief when Raila Odinga announced the postponement of the rallies.

Let me hasten to add that our sigh of relief DID NOT coincide with NOR WAS IT THE SAME AS the sighs from the Kenyan comprador and petit-bourgeois elite.

Rather, our own sense of relief was grounded on organizational, tactical, and strategic considerations.

We felt that the initial round of protests were largely spontaneous and unfocused.

Even the first attempts of ODM to rally the troops to Uhuru Park relied heavily on the passions and voluntarist energies of the ODM popular base.  These actions were not very well coordinated in our view, and that is why the cops had an upper hand.

We also felt that, after the series of lumpen jacqueries in the informal settlements which had left in their wake infernos, innocent victims, and tribal acrimony, it was crucial for the ODM to step in and take charge, because, contrary to the strident accusations of PNU supporters online and throughout the country, the ODM as a party HAD NO ROLE in the riots and subsequent carnage.

This fact is graphically illustrated by the plight which befell hundreds of innocent Kisii-speaking voters in Nyanza and parts of the Rift Valley.  A comrade of mine who was one of the defeated aspirants in one constituency on the southern tip of Nyanza province recounted to me the violent reprisals and terrible ordeals which befell innocent Kisiis who had actually voted for Raila Odinga.  He told me that there was a series of very blatant rigging of the ballots for Kibaki in parts of the Greater Kisii region where the PNU Presidential candidate got abnormally high amounts of votes — a clear plan to steal votes from Raila Odinga.  When these artificial tallies were announced by ECK and especially after the shocking award, by Kivuitu, of the 2007 Presidential prize to Kibaki, mass anger erupted in places like Migori, Kericho, Kuresoi, and Kisumu.  The target this time was not confined to innocent Kikuyus and their property but also members of the Kisii who were wrongly accused by enraged Luo and Kipsigis mobs of having “betrayed” the people of Nyanza in bringing back Kibaki to power.  I am told that even now there are unclaimed bodies on some of the tea estates in Kericho, with many members of the Kisii community losing their businesses in Kisumu and some areas in the Rift Valley.  The many illegal road blocks erected on the Kisii-Nairobi road, especially the Sotik-Narok section, were scenes of unbelievable horrors if one happened to be a Kisii.  This account corroborates the harrowing narrative of the Toronto-based Dr. Matunda Nyanchama that was posted on the Africa-Oped and Mwananchi online discussion forums.

My comrade told me that it took his own urgent personal intervention with two members of the ODM Pentagon to enable the leadership of ODM to travel to the Rift Valley and Nyanza to appeal for calm and the end of ethnic slaughter.

The point I am trying to drive home is that the ODM leadership could have hardly “ordered” an ethnic attack on the Kisii community which rallied together to rout Simeon Nyachae and eliminate the PNU as a political force in Gusii land.

If anything, the ODM leadership, especially in southern Nyanza, can be accused of being largely impotent in the face of a grave crisis affecting their own fervent supporters.


I would like to state for the record that I have been disgusted by the emerging PNU propaganda that attempts to portray the ODM leadership as Interhamwe-type masterminds of genocide when the facts point to two developments:

The deployment of state troops who went on a shooting rampage in Nairobi, Eldoret, Kakamega, Bungoma, Kisumu, and Mombasa killing innocent civilians and two;

The cynical abdication of duty by the same state-employed uniformed security forces when looting and plunder was taking place in Kisumu, Kibera, and Mombasa to just cite three examples where eyewitnesses (including my brother in law in Mombasa who happens to be a half-Kikuyu and who had his bar on the west mainland pillaged and plundered under the uncaring eye of hordes of heavily armed cops who stood by as his club was stripped of all the equipment, appliances, and facilities that he spent the last two years installing to revamp the place).  It is my considered opinion that the looting and plunder WAS CONSCIOUSLY FACILITATED BY THE STATE TO DISCREDIT RAILA ODINGA AND THE ODM.  This position was echoed by an elderly clear-headed Kisumu resident when he was interviewed last night by a KTN television crew.

The PNU propagandists peddling the spurious “genocide” allegations are of course blissfully oblivious to the fact that the MAJORITY OF DEAD VICTIMS of the post-electoral violence has police wounds riddling their corpses.

If there is a case that can be made of pre-meditated mass killings, then the person in the dock should be those Kibaki-connected conniving political schemers who instituted a shoot-to-kill policy after arming cops with live ammunition instead of rubber bullets.

The breaking news revelations by Maina Kiai, the fiercely independent Chair of the state-funded Kenya National Commission on Human Rights to the effect that members of the dreaded Mungiki sect had been reactivated by the Kibaki regime to carry out murderous attacks in Nairobi slums thought to be ODM strongholds is a stunning setback that is already causing ripple effects and knocking the wind out of the sails of those Kibaki supporters online who have been trumpeting a concocted campaign against Raila Odinga and his ODM colleagues who they have stridently accused of ethnic cleansing.

What is even more astonishing is that this story was broken by none other than Mungiki insiders who took the initiative of contacting Maina Kiai’s offices.

It should be recalled that only a few months ago the same Kibaki regime was indiscriminately executing innocent Agikuyu youth suspected of being Mungiki members based on the sole “evidence” of ethnicity.

What a CYNICAL case of Use and Dump and Abuse Again!

The PNU propagandists may very well get what they wish for with unintended legal consequences for their paymasters because I earnestly believe that an independent, transparent international inquiry composed of legal experts into the Kenyan post-electoral deaths is far more likely to indict the Michukis and the Murages than anyone else within the ODM leadership.

And that is why I say:

Bring on the Inquiry, the Tribunal, the Commission!

Let the investigations commence this very afternoon!

As I was saying before I veered off on that tangent, many progressive and democratic-minded Kenyans were grateful when ODM called off the mass rallies.


The masses were fatigued; they were famished; they were unorganized and disorganized and certainly not very politically conscientized and sensitized.  As one of my comrades was pointing out to me yesterday evening, mass action is NOT A JOKE.

You need a detailed strategy.

You need mobilizers.

You need resources, in the same way an army needs supply lines, commanders, and maximum flexibility of tactics to outwit the other side.

Of course Onyango Oloo is NOT going to delve into any kind of detail about how one can implement a successful, sustained, and popular mass action strategy here online.

I would have to be certified INSANE for me to do that.

The key thing to remember is that the crisis in Kenya has by now evolved far beyond Raila Odinga and the stolen Presidential vote or the right of ODM to form the next government.

What we are now dealing with as Kenyans is the need to repulse a criminal conspiracy to overthrow democratic rule and restore the neo-colonial fascist ethno-kleptocracy of the Moi-KANU years.

What we are dealing with as Kenyans is a direct danger to ALL of the democratic gains we have made over the last twenty-five to thirty years.

What we are dealing with as Kenyans is an immediate threat that could plunge Kenya into a bloody civil war that would make Liberia, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, Somalia, and Congo look like child’s play.

The danger we face as a nation calls IMMEDIATELY for, among other prerogatives:

  1. A UNITED response that does not look at the problem through PAROCHIAL ETHNIC spectacles;
  2. A DEMOCRATIC and PEACEFUL response that eschews militaristic and violent conspiracies;
  3. A perspective grounded on SOCIAL JUSTICE and ANTI-IMPERIALIST precepts to ensure a progressive, egalitarian, and just eventual outcome;
  4. A PROTRACTED approach realizing that Kibaki and his henchmen, having tasted state power, will not, of their own accord relinquish the same unless forced to do so by united, democratic, progressive determination of the Kenyan people rising up to demand their country, their rights, and their aspirations back from the PNU usurpers;
  5. An organic linkage with the international solidarity and fight-back campaigns spearheaded BY PROGRESSIVE AND PATRIOTIC KENYANS OUTSIDE THE COUNTRY together with our other global comrades in many countries throughout the world.

There is ONLY ONE WEAPON at the disposal of the Kenyan people at this present time and that weapon is:


Let me repeat Ho Chi Minh’s revolutionary dictum over and over and over and over again:

Organize, Organize, Organize!

Yes we know that the MOST AGGRIEVED IMMEDIATE ENTITY is the ODM who have just been robbed of an election that they won fair and square in broad daylight.

However, the issue is far, far beyond the ODM and its immediate supporters.  They are millions of Kenyans who are not necessarily aligned to ODM but are completely outraged and want to be part of a successful fight back.

This reality calls for the launching of a Kenya-wide organizational and democratic conduit which is much broader than any one political party in the country.

The other day, I called for the formation of a NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT founded on the four pillars of JUSTICE, PEACE, DEMOCRACY, and TRUTH.  This movement must be based on the poor wananchi in the urban and rural areas, the youth, the women, the cultural and religious minorities, the progressive elements among the middle-class, patriotic Kenyans outside the country, and all anti-imperialist forces.

My call is merely one of dozens of such calls emanating simultaneously from Kenyan progressives from all over the country, from Mombasa to Malaba, Moyale, to Loitoktok.

Already we see fast-mutating precursors of that kind of organization sprouting almost on a daily basis.

At the civil society front, a network of over 30 NGOs and non-profit formations formed a Coalition for Peace, Justice and Truth within the first few days of January.

At the core of this coalition are such credible institutions like the Kenya Human Rights Commission, the Mars Group, the Law Society of Kenya, Kituo Cha Sheria, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, the National Convention Executive Council, the Centre for Multiparty Democracy-Kenya, and other like minded bodies.

We must commend the admirable work of such Kenyan militant patriots and progressives like Muthoni Wanyeki, Gladwell Otieno, Cyprian Nyamwamu, Kepta Ombati, Ndung’u Wainaina, Maina Kiai, Zahid Rajan, Haron Ndubi, Zarina Patel, and Mwalimu Mati in jump-starting this much needed vehicle and process.

Among the praiseworthy initiatives of the new coalition are efforts to engage members of the Central Kenyan communities through an entity called the Republican Forum — a network of younger business people and professionals from among the Agikuyu.  This forum which meets regularly at a certain Nairobi hotel and counts among its regulars people like David Ndii and Mutahi Ngunyi, to name just two, is right now assessing the immediate ECONOMIC and FINANCIAL impact and long-term ramifications of the Kibaki/PNU on Central Kenya within the context of the national reality that the Agikuyu, like other Kenyans, live all over the country and, if the anti-Kibaki backlash maintains an ethnic tag, how this will mess up national harmony.  Apart from that, the group has a mandate to emphasize to the GEMA communities that Kibaki’s coup should not be seen as synonymous as a “victory” for millions of individual Kikuyus, Merus, and Embus but rather an insult and assault on every one of them who as Kenyans are equally affronted by this callous subversion of democracy, justice, and yes, prospects for peaceful coexistence across all our diverse Kenyan peoples.

Over and above all the above, forces within the coalition are exhorting Kenyans to do the following:

  1. Agitate for new presidential elections within the next three months;
  2. Urge ODM to take up their seats and continue their struggle in the 10th parliament because a boycott will be a political faux pas that will play right into the hands of the PNU usurpers;
  3. Engage the police, the paramilitary, and the military with a view to winning over these security forces to the side of the democratic and patriotic forces;
  4. Mobilize the international community, especially the United States, Canada, Japan, and the European Union, to realize that Kenya will be UNGOVERNABLE under an illegitimate regime and that their interests and the interests of neighbouring countries like Uganda, Rwanda, the DRC, Sudan, Ethiopia, etc. will be at risk if the current political impasse persists;
  5. Step up indigenous, in-country humanitarian efforts reaching out to ALL the victims of the post-electoral strife regardless of ethnicity, political affiliation, and regional origins.

There are of course some other interesting developments, but I guess at this point that I will dutifully ZIP MY LIPS.

Onyango Oloo
Nairobi, Kenya

Onyango Oloo is a Kenyan political activist and ex political prisoner.  This essay first appeared in JUKWAA on 10 January 2008.

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