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Raila Odinga Stunned by Election Defeat, Embarrassed and Told Off by Supporters

The Incumbent Opposition leader in Kenya Raila Odinga was stunned after a humiliating defeat by President Uhuru Kenyatta in recently concluded general elections. Odinga garnered 6.7millions votes translating to 44% of total votes cast.

President Kenyatta won the election with 54% of the vote, just as FP News and other international and local media had predicted towards the election.
The man who New York Times, FP News, and Economist Digest reference as the world record holder of election losses and worse, a perennial loser is yet to recover from the historic loss.

Shocked and desperate, Odinga and his team attempted to rig the election by making wild claims that ranged to hacking and forged results declaration forms. All these allegations were found false and wanting by both the international poll observers and the diplomatic community further embarrassing Odinga.

Odinga further suffered more humiliation when he claimed he should be named the poll winner by force. Media and the diplomatic community protested and warned against such criminal expeditions. Odinga has made the defeat a Luo affair after all his lieutenants cum principals deserted their strategy caucus citing shocking irresponsibility and desperation.

Odinga’s small brigade also claimed that over 100 persons from Luo community has been killed during protests. This was proved false by both media and police after. He called for boycott to work on Monday but was humiliated by millions of Kenyans who defied his rhetoric and went to work.

Even in Worst Case Scenario, Incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta Will Win; There’s No Chance of Kenya’s NASA Opposition Coalition in August Election

Kenya’s Incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta will win the August general election in the 1st round, pollsters, and analysts project. The facts and numbers are for the 1st time in favor of Kenyatta than before. The opposition coalition despite waging a 4 year propaganda war on the government don’t stand a chance, even in the worst case scenarios. Foreign Policy has analyzed several scenarios and found a bias.

Scenario 1: President Kenyatta loses 5% popularity across the country’s 47 Counties

Using the 2013 presidential election results to predict a possible repeat, we found out that, incumbent President Kenyatta would register a marginal win by approximately 128,813 votes (assuming that opposition coalition NASA over the past 5years has inherited 5% of the incumbent’s votes in each county). The 128,813 votes translates to a 1st round win of slightly over 50.4% (which is above the bare minimum of 50+1 required to win the election and avoid a runoff).

In a reasonably possible worst case scenario for the incumbent, assuming that relative to the 2013 poll outcome, his performance per county including his strongholds, will in 2017 worsen by 5%. We give this 5% to Raila Odinga. Using latest IEBC figures per county, what each candidate got in 2013, and voter turnout, we further assume the pattern will be the same in 2017. Furthermore, assuming that the incumbent Kenyatta loss in each of the 47 counties will become Odinga’s gain, it turned out that President Kenyatta would garner 8,018,906  (50.4%) votes against perennial loser Raila Odinga’s 7,890,093 (49.59%).

Scenario 2: Repeat of 2013 Voting Pattern in all 47 Counties

Using the 2013 presidential election results to predict a possible repeat, we found out that, incumbent President Kenyatta would register a resounding win by approximately 1,072, 224 votes beating Odinga hands down.

In this scenario, the analysis team reviews scenario-1 but assume the incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta has not hemorrhaged any support rather has retained his support. Using the 2013 voting pattern, President Kenyatta would garner 8,489,226 votes against Odinga’s 7,417,002 votes. We have used the average voter turnout in 2013 and assumed it will be repeated in 2017, and made a projection.

As such, President Kenyatta will win the election with 53. 37% against Odinga’s 46.62%. This would be resounding win and defeat for Odinga who hardly concedes defeat rather cries foul citing rigging and imagined malpractices.

Scenario 3: Incumbent Kenyatta Gains 5% Popularity in all 47 Counties

Incumbent President Kenyatta would register a resounding win by approximately 2,662,703 votes humiliating and humbling 72 years Opposition leader Raila Odinga.

Using both Scenario 1 and 2 we make a plausible case whereby President Kenyatta has gained popularity across the country. In Scenario-1, we assumed the president lost 5% support/votes across the country (we averaged this percentage per all 47 counties). In scenario 3, we assume the president’s popularity has gained 5% in each county. We have referenced data by pollsters to assume that more women and the elderly in opposition strongholds are more likely to vote for the Incumbent President Kenyatta thus our assumption that the president is 5% more popular than in 2013.

Scenario 2 is based on the assumption that the 2013 voting pattern is more likely to be repeated in 2017, as such, President Kenyatta’s 5% growth in popularity will reflect automatically. President Kenyatta will win with 58.37% beating Odinga badly and embarrassing the old politician to an extent, he, Odinga, would retire from politics immediately. Kenyatta would garner 9,284,465 votes against Raila Odinga’s 6,621,762 votes, a difference of over 2.6 million votes.

Scenario 4: Four Pollsters Projections and the Undecided Voters Likely Preferences

We analyze 3 latest polls by Infotrak Harris, Ipsos Synovate, and Radio Africa.

  1. Infrotrak Harris found out that 8% of Kenyans are undecided and that 48% would vote for incumbent Kenyatta. We use the worst case scenario whereby we give the incumbent just 40% of the undecided voters. This would translate to 52% 1st round win against Odinga’s 49%. This outcome correlates with scenario-1’s projection though the margin is much higher but resembles scenario-2 whereby the President garners 53% of the vote.
  2. African Electoral Observation Group poll projected the incumbent would garner 51.7% 1st round win.
  3. Radio Africa poll projected the incumbent would win the election with 49.5% against Odinga’s 40.5% with 10% undecided. If Uhuru takes just 50% of the undecided, he’d win 1st round with 54%.
  4. Synovate poll shows Uhuru would win with 49% against Odinga’s 40%. Over 9% were undecided. If the undecided voters were shares based on the same percentage, Uhuru Kenyatta would take away 6% of the undecided voters translating to 55% 1st round win.

Overall, President Kenyatta wins in all 4 scenarios. Though the opposition is putting a brave face, they stand no chance. President Uhuru Kenyatta is poised for a convincing reelection. His reelection is likely to end the Odinga dynasty and fanatical influence it has in Nyanza Province of Kenya. Odinga’s loss is likely to shift sociopolitics. Kenya is likely to see the last of ethnic tensions during elections. A Kenyatta reelection will be the rebirth of Kenya, socially, economically, and politically.

Desperate Kenyan Opposition Creative Destruction Political Strategy, Sabotage of the Giant Economic Milestones, A Prelude to Civil Anarchy & Ethnic Cleansing

A video going viral on the web shows men secretly conducting surveillance, inspection and possible vulnerability assessment of the incomplete multi-million dollar bridge in Bundalangi Western just few hours after the Mega Bridge collapsed.

Sigiri bridge collapsed two weeks after being launched by President Kenyatta. Police have so far arrested eight (8) peoples in connection with the incident. Police also reported of steel cut from the bridge and steel cutters that were recovered from their house clearly confirming the bridge was vandalized construction was on progress.

Similarly, another incident took place sometimes on June days before the official opening of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) by President Kenyatta. In this incident, steel rails, electronic systems and security cabling were vandalized and stolen by unknown people. Later, police traced the stolen equipment and steel from scrap metal dealers. The arrested assailants maintained that they were sold the steel by people they couldn’t identify.

The occurrence of these events confirms a pattern of well laid plans by economic saboteur. Analysts attribute these incidents to politics and desperation brought forth by panicky opposition coalition tacticians.  Opposition hand in these unfortunate events is aimed at propelling their propaganda campaign against the government projects and with a broader view to discredit a magnificent growth and development by the current regime in Kenya. The Kenyan opposition has resulted to cheap but scorched earth and creative destruction strategies that were used by 17th century civilizations to politically win hearts and minds of countrymen.

Why Plunder and Destroy their Own?

Its rather disturbing and an act of desperation for the opposition to stoop to low by destroy roads and bridges so helpful to the Kenyan public and key pillars of the economy just to gain political mileage. This is the worst form of bigotry, betrayal and cowardice during times peace being enjoyed by the larger Kenyan populous. The lies about Kenya today and its government are incredible.  These underhand methods demonstrate truly a violent brigade that thrives on bigotry to make an edge political-wise.  Such desire for violence will destroy what the country has gained economically.

Local and international pollsters are putting the incumbent, President Uhuru Kenyatta in a good stead and opposition is using any possible methods to push forth their propaganda through disinformation, creative destruction, and bigotry and scorching the thriving incumbents’ ground.

Use of hate speech, ethnicity, and civil unrest has reached worrying levels.  The opposition led by Raila Odinga has tried all means to derail the August polls to no success. Now the opposition insists that it will not accept the election result citing fears that it has already been rigged. This is a call for civil anarchy and ethnic cleansing similar to what was witnessed in 2007.

Raila Odinga’s 4yr Plan to Convert Central Kenya Into a Desert and a Cattle Rustling Flashpoint

The eyes of the world cannot keep their gaze away from Kenya. Two public utterances by the opposition coalition leader Raila Odinga have sent chills down spines of both British Ranchers and hoteliers in the country, and most disturbing, ethnic profiling of the Mt Kenya communities. In less than a month, Odinga told international media that he will destroy the White ranches in Laikipia and give them away to nomadic pastoralists.

The armed herders have killed several persons including security officers, locals, and British land owners. Odinga during a political rally incited the Maasai community against other communities. His target is the Mt Kenya communities, specifically the Kikuyu and Meru, besides their distant cousins the Kisii. Days later, incitement messages went viral on social media while leaflets were dropped in Maasai land warning certain communities to get out of the region.

A Leaked strategy document reveals the scheme by Raila Odinga’s Think Tank, a team whose members are from Ghana, Tanzania, Kenya, France, and Germany. The violent raids on the White ranches by heavily armed herders and the involvement of politician Mathew Lempurkel in the Laikipia murders was the genesis of the execution of the grand strategy.

Violent raids on ranches in Laikipia and Nyeri areas of Mt Kenya region by Samburu nomadic pastoralists in the past 6 months was politically instigated. The mastermind, according to both ranchers and locals the Orange Democratic Party ODM, led by opposition coalition leader Raila Odinga planned and facilitated the raids. Odinga, publicly admitted that he has plans of dismantling the White ranches and hotels in the semi-arid Laikipia. Security agencies in both Kenya and Britain are worried about the security of their citizens in the area, but that’s not enough. In a leaked strategy document, ODM has a strategic plan to weaken or completely destroy the socioeconomic hegemony of the Mt Kenya region which is inhabited by the Kikuyu, Meru, and Embu communities. All three communities share a dialect, in fact, they nearly speak the same language.

In the document, the strategy is to destroy Laikipia by raiding the vast White ranches in the pretext of cattle rustling and lack of green pasture. Since the ranches cannot sustain the herders, the herders can move further south into Mt Kenya region and occupy the green pasture. The prone areas are Nyeri and Meru. An ethnic conflict between the armed herders and the farming communities in the mountain region will organically take place. In the Maasai land, the local communities should be stopped from selling land to the target communities. Instead, they should be forced out of the Maasai land.

Investigators argue that, while pastoralism is practiced on 25% of the global land area (where crops can’t be grown), mobile livestock farming can be used to cause conflict between farming communities and the nomads. The conflict is often resource based. The consequences of such a conflict has catastrophic outcomes including death, desertification, decline in socioeconomics, and worse, a long ethnic conflict. In the strategy, the opposition argues that livestock provides more food security than growing crops in arid and semi-arid areas, that’s why the food crisis in Kenya is often a livestock crisis. To end it permanently, the nomads should occupy the ever green mountain regions and push the farming communities further downhill through land invasion. This means agriculturally productive areas like Nyeri, Laikipia, and Meru will be affected or have already been affected.

Research shows the obvious effect of nomadic pastoral-ism on semi-arid and highland areas include stressing the climatic conditions of the area due to desertification (less vegetation due to over grazing).

Cultural raiding, food insecurity, economic stress, environmental degradation, marginalization of affected communities, market shocks and non-integration in value chains will hit Mt Kenya region. With evidence that quantity and quality of grasslands are on the decline due to environmental degradation, raiding and occupying farming communities lands in Mt Kenya region is a potent weapon. The Ameru and Kikuyu’s will be affected. What is the truly profound is that the difference in resource depletion is being used a weapon of environmental degradation, the blame is laid mainly to population dynamics which has resulted different human and animal populations, and that’s a great guise to destroy Mt Kenya and its inhabitants socioeconomic and political hegemony in the country.

 

Odinga LOST the ballot printing TENDER and now he is on a revenge MISSION

The National Super Alliance (NASA) presidential candidate Raila Odinga now wants the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to cancel the ballot printing tender awarded to Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing Company based in Dubai. This might have been a genuine action to take if we didn’t know the motive behind it. The former Prime Minister claims that the owners of the firm that was awarded the Ksh. 2.5 billion-tender are close to Jubilee administration’s top officials. He also claims that this is likely to influence the outcome of the August 8, 2017 election to favor his opponent.

It has emerged that there is a BIG REASON behind Odinga’s complaints. This is where BIG MONEY is involved. Follow this:

Ben Sachs and Dr Patel Shailesh, proprietors behind the South African Printing Firm by the name of The Paarl Media(Pty) Ltd are great friends of Raila Odinga.

They met in his office thrice in December of 2015 and twice in April of last year(2016). Odinga himself flew to South Africa twice last year and met them in a deal where they agreed they would contribute at least 1 Billion to his campaign kitty. But this would only succeed if he helped them secure the lucrative ballot printing tender from the IEBC. That was a serious challenge.

He knew Issac Hassan would not agree to such a fishy deal.( the Smith & Ousman of 2012,  the famous chicken-gate Scandal).Isaac Hassan would therefore have to go.

So, Ben Sachs and Raila Odinga met Dr Ezra Chiloba twice last year before the printing tender was floated. Chiloba would hear no such stories. Options were limited. They applied for the tender and failed. They challenged the tendering process in Court, they failed.

And that’s how Odinga lost one of his most trusted campaign financier.
So we know what is irking him so much.
We know him.

British Authorities and Ranchers; Raila Odinga Behind Laikipia Land Invasion

The eyes of the world have been focused on Kenya the most developed and largest economy in East and Central Africa this week, and hopefully, beyond this week.  Why? The 72 Year old opposition leader wants to turn the powerful economy into another Zimbabwe by chasing ranchers, farmers, and hoteliers from the Laikipia region of Kenya, and maybe, maybe, beyond if he wins the August Presidential Election. A Case of sociopolitical buffoonery and sheer lack of economic and international relations knowledge. Pure idiocy and lack of providence.

When Zimbabwe President, Robert Mugabe drove 4000 productive farmers off their land a decade ago it was a tragedy. He did not imagine the political and economic ramifications of such buffoonery. What befell the once mighty Zimbabwe is historical. The country’s economy plunged into a deep sea of misery, inflation skyrocketed, and most notable, the country’s sociopolitical fabric wore out. Zimbabwe became a global laughing stalk, an insignia of how political buffoonery plunders even the finest of economies in modern earth.

Political Buffoonery and Sheer Lack of Leadership

In Kenya, the early signs of a political buffoonery were first reported by Times, a world acclaimed magazine. Times South African based journalist Aislinn Laing on 12th June 2017 authored a story whose headline screamed “Kenya’s White Ranches Must be Dismantled, Says Opposition Leader Raila Odinga.” The world was dismayed. Though Odinga has attempted to dispel the fears, foreign policy analysts, diplomats, geopolitical analysts, economists and intelligence services have focused their eyes on Kenya and the Laikipia flashpoint.

The Maasai tribesmen, British Intelligence, British Army elements training in the area, the White Ranchers and Hoteliers in Laikipa County which lies north –West of Central Kenya believe Raila Odinga and his political friends are behind the violent land invasion, killing of wildlife, destruction of tourist homes, and lodges owned by both Kikuyu and British businessmen. The Maasai and Kikuyu live there and they are socioeconomically affected. A Decline in demand for foodstuffs in the hotels and ranches has affected them significantly.

Purge on Perceived Kikuyu Hegemony, their heartland and economic lifelines

According to intelligence sources, Raila Odinga and his opposition coalition wants Laikipia to be a flashpoint to harm the Kikuyu economy and subsequently destroy its imagined and misconstrued hegemony. The deployment of once peaceful Samburu herdsmen and youth militia to raid and kill Kikuyu farmers besides destroy White owned ranches and lodges was planned. The Maasai in Laikipia blame area Member of Parliament Mathew Lempurkel for the armed conflict. By raiding Laikipia and Nyeri, the Samburu’s will have succeeded in proving that the Kikuyu community fortress of Central province is vulnerable and that herders can raid and possibly push them out of the highlands.

If the White ranches are dismantled and the arid land transformed into grazing fields, a world class desert will be established on the leeside of Mt Kenya. With Laikipia a dry desert, the pastoralists will push beyond Nyeri for pastures further creating socioeconomic conflicts. It is a strategy of weakening and hopefully destroying the Kikuyu community. It has always featured predominantly in Odinga’s strategy including the 2007 election whereby the core of the strategy was isolation of the community. Interestingly, the International Criminal Court ICC, has never taken action despite coarse body of information incriminating the career opposition leader.

It is interesting to watch the events in Kenya as they continue to unfold. The general election is on a month and half away. The scales are tilting towards the incumbent youthful President Kenyatta with pundits projecting a clean 1st round win of 58% of the vote against Odinga’s paltry 38%. The British and local communities in Kenya should both pray Odinga loses to Kenyatta else they’ll be dismantled from their lands. Whilst the rosy idea of populist approaches to sociopolitical conflicts goes down well with most poor communities, the country is likely to go Zimbabwe way where ‘you’ll carry a million shillings to buy bread and butter”

The Old Politician Raila Is Being Rejected By His Own After Decades

A Man who has rode a white horse in Nyanza province in South West Kenya wishes the August 2017 general elections delayed, not because the country is not ready but because he has been warned by Western think tanks that he is unwanted even by his own tribesmen.

On a Sunday rally, NASA Presidential candidate Raila Odinga was humiliated by thousands of irate youths in his backyard. The youths chanted obscenities and told off the aged politician considered as the Luo Kingpin. Odinga was shaken, humiliated, and above all near tears. His co-principals made frantic efforts to quell the mammoth crowd.
In Migori, a youth movement is warning the county against voting for Odinga again citing making up lies, using the communities misery for political mileage, and uncertainty if he will ever win. Most interesting is the narrative by the movement, “we will not die again for Baba!”

In Busia, youth’s and middle aged people are openly saying Odinga cannot be trusted nor is he worthy of betting for again. “Raila was Prime Minister, can you show or account for anything he has ever done for us here? All we do is swarm political rallies yelling ODM on top of our voices. Enough is enough. It is better the thieving Jubilee since it has delivered. Raila is a liar and just using us!” a middle aged man tells a village baraza in Busia.
In Kakamega, thousands of youths are making headlines in the villages there. They’ve formed a movement that aims at dislodging Odinga’s political fiefdom there. They’ve been holding meetings and small rallies in the villages preaching peace. Using a convoy of hundreds of motorcycles, they’ve been traversing the county popularizing Jubilee government.

In Bondo and Kisumu youths in business have formed a lobby that is focusing on having alternative leadership in the Luo Nyanza. “We are tired of political sycophancy, a penchant for crisis and violence, and a near-religious fanatism about the Odinga family and their political aspirations. Am sure Luo Nyanza can produce better political leaders who will unite our community with others. We are tired of Raila by the way. He should leave us alone in his politics or retire completely from politics.” An angry Fredrick Okoth says angrily.

The anti Raila sentiments are growing by the day. There is a spill over in Kisii Nyanza. Some Kisii elite claim, they know Odinga won’t win but they won’t entertain any form of violence. “It is wrong to drag the Kisii people to war. Odinga’s loss will be his loss not our loss. The current leadership is ok and it has preached peace long enough. If he loses, let him not drag us into the mud of his loss.

Incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta Will Win by 58%, Western Think Tanks Predict

International and local pollsters project 55year President Uhuru Kenyatta will be reelected with a landslide during the August general elections. Little known pollster ‘Elections Pollster’ which predicted a Macron win in France projects Mr. Kenyatta will win 58% of the vote against Mr. Odinga’s 38%.

The poll results echoes several others conducted in the recent past by Infortrak and Ipsos Synovate pollsters. Both pollsters project predict Mr Kenyatta will win with a landslide in August.

Western Think Tanks Predicts Kenyatta will get slightly over 10.5 million votes out of the slightly over 16million verified voters leaving Mr Odinga with less than 5million votes. The West warns that Mr Odinga’s slogan of 10million win is a ploy to hoodwink Kenyans to believe he will win. “Odinga’s 10million votes win is a lie derived from our projections that President Kenyatta will win the election with over 10.5million votes in August”, Claims a Western official.

South Africa Based Think Tank Predicts Apathy in Nyanza and Western.

According to Jared Jeffery, senior analysts at NKC Africa Economics in Paarl South Africa, 35% of National Super Alliance supporters are lethargic of Odinga’s streak of fails.

Analyst’s project that there’s a risk that even in Raila Odinga’s backyard of Nyanza, President Kenyatta will garner thrice as much votes as he got in the last General election. There’s a risk that Odinga’s three unsuccessful bids to secure the presidency may result in apathy among potential supporters.

Elections Pollster

Majority of women in Kenya will vote for the youthful and down to earth Kenyatta. 35% of Odinga’s backyard will also vote Mr Kenyatta since they are tired of Odinga’s losses and empty rhetoric. If the tired 35% of Odinga’s supporters vote for Kenyatta, Odinga will not score more than 4million votes in the General election. He will be routed out of the political arena forever. Even if the entire Luo Nyanza doesn’t give Mr Kenyatta a single vote, he will enjoy 10.5 million votes from the rest of the country while Mr Odinga will not get more than 6 million votes. It is impossible for Odinga to get more votes than he got in the last election.

Bath, England.

According to Emma Gordon, Senior Analyst at Bath, England based risk consultancy, the opposition support is completely disillusioned this time and it’s impossible to determine actual political preference of the entire block. Odinga’s last 3 grand fails, the 2007 political violence which he engineered, and the 1982 coup are making a section of his supporters jittery about his 4th attempt.

Teneo Strategy, Dubai

According to Ahmed Salim, Senior Analyst at Teneo Strategy, a Dubai based firm, President Kenyatta would have enjoyed a landslide win were it not for the discontent about cost of living and the narrative about corruption which has been manufactured by the opposition. If he can be able to turn these two issues around to his advantage in 2 months, he will win the 1st round with over 60%.  Despite the public discontent, Kenyatta will win the election since he enjoys massive following in both his backyard and swing counties. The jubilee mobilization and large turnout in both Jubilee strongholds and swing counties guarantees Kenyatta a clean win and leaves no chance for 72 year old Odinga.

Political analyst from both jubilee and NASA party know the reality that the no of newly registered voters released by IEBC gives jubilee party a head start. It is clear this time round, jubilee party will win by a bigger margin compared to 2013 and whatever the opposition does to avoid the inevitable defeat will fail.

In the last elections, the opposition enjoyed a slight majority in six out of seven counties marked as battle grounds, but still, that did not stop Uhuru Kenyatta from routing Raila Odinga on the first attempt with over fifty percent of the registered population voting him in office. Today, Jubilee has more counties against the combined opposition

“In only one hour, I realized why Kenyan opposition is bitter with President Kenyatta. If he was my opponent, I would also be scared of him; this man is a great debater and a diplomat. If I was running against him, I wouldn’t have any hope of being reelected because his eloquence alone would deny me another term” German Chancellor, Angela Merkel

U.S Embassy Report: Raila Odinga Was Behind the 2Billion Maize Scandal

The United States ambassador to Kenya confirmed that Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and his family were behind the 2billion maize scandal in 2009. Odinga also fired then Agriculture Minister now Deputy President of Kenya Mr William Samoei Ruto and Education Minister Sam Ongeri so that public debate would focus on the two and not his corrupt and thieving family.

Raila Odinga’s family led by his step-son Fidel Odinga sold Maize from the strategic grain reserve to Southern Sudan. Though Agriculture minister William Ruto had banned all exports of maize, The Odinga’s were still getting away with it. Once in Southern Sudan, the Odinga’s would sell the commodity for more than three times the cost compared to Kenya.

While NCPB was selling the maize to millers and middlemen at a price of Sh1750 (US$23) per 90 kilogramme bag, the Odinga’s stole from NCPB and repackaged the commodity and exported it to Southern Sudan where they were selling it for KES Sh6000 ($80) for the same quantity.

The situation was compounded by the fact that thousands of maize bags valued at over Sh150 million ($2 million) were allocated to Companies and middle men directly linked to the Odinga’s.

The scam is further exposed in the damaging Wikileaks cables whereby it evidence shows Prime Minister Raila Odinga attempted to suspend former Agriculture Minister William Ruto to divert attention from his family’s involvement in the Sh2 billion maize scam. Secret cables sent by US Ambassador, Michael Ranneberger, to Washington and now released by WikiLeaks allege Raila wanted to create confusion when he said he was suspending Ruto and Education Minister Sam Ongeri. It claims Raila wanted public debate to focus on the two, and not his family’s role in the scandal.
According to Ambassador Ranneberger, Raila took the action not only because he wanted to be seen as fighting corruption, but to divert attention from his family’s involvement in the maize scandal. The maize and education scandals came to light in January 2009. The following month, Kibaki suspended key officials in the Agriculture and Education ministries, a day before Raila announced he was sending the ministers home. “We have credible reports that members of Odinga’s family, presumably with his knowledge and involvement, were involved in the maize scandal. Thus, at the time he made his dramatic February 14 statements, Odinga was facing serious pressures on both the corruption and constitutional review issues,” wrote Ranneberger.

“It seems highly possible that Odinga made the announcement regarding Ongeri and Ruto knowing that it would cause a huge political and constitutional flap, and thus divert focus on the corruption. Ida Odinga’s son Fidel Odinga,

“On Raila’s leadership, the ambassador says there is increasing disillusionment in the ODM and that Odinga does not show leadership rather behaves like an excited freshman”. “The ODM seems both directionless and less united than before because it does not have an agenda and leadership.”

 

Russia’s Last Opposition Hero

Police officers detain one of the protest movement leaders, Alexei Navalny, at Moscow's Pushkinskaya Square, on March 5, 2012, as the protesters refuse to leave the venue at the end of their larger rally earlier. Russian police broke up today a protest in central Moscow against Vladimir Putin's victory in presidential elections, roughly arresting dozens of people, an AFP correspondent said. AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER NEMENOV (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)

MOSCOW — It wasn’t the slick video you would expect from a candidate running for president — the suit was oversized, the camera work uneasy, and the IKEA-framed family pictures too contrived — but its appearance in mid-December was a victory in itself. To stay under the radar of the Russian security services, locations had to be booked at the last minute, and the video itself was edited from hotel rooms. It was a remarkable coup. From a position of weakness, Alexei Navalny, the Kremlin’s most vocal critic, had managed to fire the starting pistol in Russia’s 2018 presidential campaign and present himself for a vacancy that no one, least of all Vladimir Putin, had advertised.

But while Navalny kicked off the long race toward the March 2018 elections, it’s unlikely he will ever be allowed a head-to-head run against Putin. Forces are already moving against him. A Moscow technology firm has closed the campaign’s crowd-funding account, apparently under pressure from state regulators. Top Kremlin figures have said they do not even consider his candidacy to be valid, citing disputed criminal convictions, which, under Russian law, would prevent him from running. Although the European Court of Human Rights has rendered a previous fraud verdict against Navalny as unlawful, that trial quickly reopened following the announcement of his candidacy. A new verdict is expected on Wednesday, and will likely settle the matter once and for all.

“I understand things won’t be fair,” Navalny told Foreign Policy in an interview in early January at his office, tucked away on the top floor of a business center in southeast Moscow. Dressed in jeans and sneakers, the onetime lawyer, anti-corruption activist, and opposition politician seemed keen to present a relaxed demeanor. “In the course of my political career, I’ve always had to deal with bogus criminal cases. It’s the Kremlin’s preferred method,” he says.

But given the clear authoritarian slide in Russia that has accelerated since 2011, his latest gambit could be a kamikaze moment — a final stand, perhaps, of a man out of options.

Navalny’s decision to run for the presidency — the first time he has dared to do so — puts him firmly in the crosshairs of the Kremlin. The political outsider has weathered pressure from the authorities and managed to emerge from previous trumped-up legal proceedings relatively intact. But given the clear authoritarian slide in Russia that has accelerated since 2011, his latest gambit could be a kamikaze moment — a final stand, perhaps, of a man out of options.

Despite his troubles, Navalny insists that he is no dissident. “Here I am in a nice office in central Moscow, drinking cappuccino and hiding from nobody,” he quipped. “I don’t understand why I should be frightened. Let them be frightened by me. Why should I give my country over to a mafia group, mediocre gangsters from St. Petersburg who somehow managed to pull the wool over a drunk Yeltsin’s eyes?” Navalny said, referring to how Putin and his inner circle came to power in the late 1990s.

Defiant as ever, the presidential announcement was a matter of standing up for Russia’s constitutional rights, Navalny says, regardless of the consequences: “They want everyone to play by their criminal rules, but I’m not a man to stay quiet, even if surrounded by serious-looking men in black helmets.”

Left: Alexei Navalny takes a selfie during a memorial march marking the one-year anniversary of the assassination of Boris Nemtsov on Feb. 27, 2016. (Photo by KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images) Right: Police officers arrest Navalny during a protest against Vladimir Putin’s victory in presidential elections on Mar. 5, 2012. (Photo by ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)

A star is born

Navalny’s first challenge to the Kremlin was in December 2011. Then, he emerged as the central figure in an opposition movement born out of disputed parliamentary elections. He cut through the political field with highly memorable slogans such as his damning of the ruling United Russia Party as “the party of crooks and thieves,” which became somewhat of a national catchphrase, thrown around by giggling schoolchildren and pensioners alike. But it was with his audacious decision to lead his followers on a march to the Kremlin, on the night following the Dec. 4, 2011, elections, that he made his first claim to leadership.

Ultimately, the opposition candidate proved unable to capitalize on the moment. As the protest movement began to wane over the first half of 2012, so too did his star. With the newly “returned” Putin at the helm, the Kremlin regrouped, clamped down, and found various, effective ways of dealing with its most problematic foe.

This marked the start of Navalny’s incessant legal problems. The cases ranged from the far-fetched to the bizarre. He was accused of stealing a poster, having an extremist blog, and acquiring his lawyer credentials illegally. One of his companies had supposedly stolen assets from a liberal opposition party; he had swindled the director of Kirovles, a timber company in the small city of Kirov. This is the case that most likely will be used to derail Navalny in court before the 2018 presidential contest.

The endless stream of legal proceedings has kept Navalny busy — which, of course, is the point. But at the time it also seemed inevitable he would be sent to jail. Indeed, in the first run of the Kirovles case in July 2013, a regional judge sensationally sentenced him to five years of hard labor.

That would probably have been the end of Navalny’s story, were it not for something rather unusual in modern Russia. Unsanctioned and largely uncoordinated, up to 30,000 Muscovites risked arrest and took to the streets to protest the ruling. Police, who had expected merely a few dozen faithful, were overwhelmed, and the Kremlin was forced to backtrack. An appeal was granted, and the following day, Navalny was on a train back from Kirov to Moscow.

“The decision to release me came from above. When they saw the numbers that turned out, they must have figured that we could be back to the situation of 2011-2012, and then they panicked,” Navalny says.

In the summer of 2013, he launched a bid to be mayor of the Russian capital, squaring off against Putin appointee and loyalist Sergei Sobyanin. Eventually, the Kremlin allowed Navalny to run, calculating that he would barely register with voters in controlled local elections. Vycheslav Volodin, the man charged with overseeing domestic politics in the wake of the protest movement, was bullish at the time. “He said that when the internet hero Navalny met with reality, he could expect no more than 6 or 7 percent of the vote,” Navalny recalls.

Navalny proved Volodin wrong. Thousands of volunteers were signed up, Obama-style, to take the message to the people; the power of the internet was harnessed to the full; and Navalny worked himself into the ground, attending hundreds of events. According to official — but disputed — results, Navalny won 27 percent of the vote and nearly forced a runoff. From a cold start without significant mass media coverage, it was a remarkable achievement. Navalny says that the ballots were deliberately miscounted to deny a second round of voting, and had the election gone to a runoff, he believes he would have won.

Riot police cordon off Triumfalnaya Square in central Moscow on Dec. 6, 2011 during a protest against Vladimir Putin’s planned return as president. (Photo by KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images)

The crackdown widens

Apparently, he wasn’t the only one to think so. Soon after his strong showing in the mayoral election, the opposition leader was placed under house arrest and forbidden from communicating with the media. A little more than a year later, he faced another confused and contradictory court case, in which he was accused of defrauding a subsidiary of the cosmetics company Yves Rocher. Only this time, Navalny’s younger brother, Oleg, was co-defendant in the trial. In a Shakespearean flourish, authorities made Oleg hostage to Navalny’s fortune by imposing a custodial sentence on the younger brother alone and freeing Alexei.

“This was unprecedented stuff, even by Putin’s standards,” says fellow opposition politician Ilya Yashin, a onetime colleague of Navalny in the centrist Yabloko Party. While opposition figures have been targeted in underhanded ways, their families have generally been off limits. When the oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky was released from prison, for example, he famously thanked Putin for not touching his family. With Navalny, however, the authorities have upped the stakes. “There’s no fair play here. Navalny’s brother is now behind bars, his parents’ businesses and apartments are being searched. He’s being followed, his wife is being followed, and security officials even follow his children,” Yashin says. “It’s the kind of pressure not everyone can cope with.”

Navalny would not be the first opposition leader to be forced into a compromise with the Kremlin, nor would he be the first to leave the country. But his response thus far has been alien to normal Russian sensibilities. He has declared, at least publicly, that he will not follow what he considers criminal, unjust laws or “understandings” with the authorities. Shortly after the court convicted his brother, he tore off his home-arrest tag and set off for a meet-and-greet on the Moscow metro. His declaration for the presidency sets a similar challenge to accepted norms. On the eve of sentencing, he opened a new campaign headquarters in Russia’s second-largest city, St. Petersburg.

Vladimir Putin delivers a speech at a rally in Moscow during the presidential campaign on Feb. 23, 2012. (Photo by YURI KADOBNOV/AFP/Getty Images)

A useful idiot?

Navalny’s resilience has led some within the opposition to question whether he is not quite what he seems. Conspiracies swirl as to whether his opposition is somehow a bit too useful for the Kremlin. Few, after all, have managed to criticize those at the very top and survived to drink cappuccino. Sergei Magnitsky, a fellow lawyer who raised corruption concerns, is dead. Former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov, the opposition’s only other charismatic leader, was killed within sight of the Kremlin — quite possibly in an act of independent entrepreneurship by a group looking to impress Putin. On Feb. 2, Nemtsov’s ally, Vladimir Kara-Murza, was hospitalized following organ failure and rumored poisoning. In Russia’s anarchic system of outsourced state harassment, the physical dangers facing those who refuse to play by the political rules are arguably as acute as they have been since the death of former Soviet leader Josef Stalin in 1953.

Navalny rejects the line that he is in cahoots with the government — his brother is in prison, after all. “The Kremlin makes its decisions based on what it can and can’t do at any given time,” he says. “Maybe I was lucky in 2009-2010, when I wasn’t too well known. Then, it was difficult to send me to jail. It’s a different paradigm now. We’re at war. We’re shooting down passenger jets.”

Political consultant Gleb Pavlovsky — a onetime Soviet dissident who famously chose a path of collaboration with the authorities, later becoming a senior Kremlin advisor — suggests that Navalny is, in fact, playing a controlled game.

“On an intuitive level, he realizes Putin is watching him, and in a way he doesn’t watch other opposition leaders like [Garry] Kasparov, [Mikhail] Kasyanov, or even Khodorkovsky,” Pavlovsky says. “There’s a corridor of what is and isn’t allowed, and, by and large, Navalny is observing the rules.”

Navalny’s move to enter the 2018 contest, however, has tested the limits.

Navalny’s move to enter the 2018 contest, however, has tested the limits. According to his legal team, the judge was initially told to deliver a custodial sentence — though it now seems more likely that the sentence will be a repeat of the five-year probational sentence brought against him in 2013. The Kremlin certainly has plenty of tricks up its sleeve, too. Whether or not he is sent to prison, there is little chance Navalny will be allowed to take his big-city electoral appeal beyond Moscow and St. Petersburg. In a time of economic belt-tightening, the Kremlin is in no mood to experiment with liberalizing its system and giving an opportunity for Navalny’s anti-corruption populism to catch on across Russia.

“You can’t even compare today’s Russia with the Russia of 2011. The comparisons that work are Belarus, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Zimbabwe,” Navalny says. “And, believe me, our express train is already speeding along rapidly down that route.”

Top image credit: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images

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