Kenya Denies Opposition Claim of Plot for Troops to Rig VoteBy
Coalition says it has evidence of plan to subvert Aug. 8 polls
Government calls opposition bloc’s allegations ‘fake news’
The Kenyan government denied a claim by the main opposition group that it’s planning to use force to rig next month’s election and keep President Uhuru Kenyatta in office.
The National Super Alliance said Friday it had “concrete evidence” of an “audacious plan” to subvert the Aug. 8 vote. The ruling Jubilee Party has “clearly recognized” it will be defeated and is organizing for “regime-friendly” army officers to implement plans including cutting power and water and “militarily isolating” some settlements on election day, the opposition group said in an emailed statement, citing alleged confidential documents.
Kenyatta accused the opposition of fabricating reasons for the election to be delayed, the Daily Nation reported. Addressing a Friday rally in western Kenya, he warned them against “dragging our highly respected and disciplined security forces including the Kenya Defence Forces and Kenya police into petty politics,” the newspaper said.
Kenya, East Africa’s biggest economy, has faced questions about the credibility of its past two elections, with a dispute over the outcome of a presidential vote in December 2007 triggering two months of ethnic violence that left at least 1,100 people dead. Opposition candidate Raila Odinga has warned of possible violence if the election is seen as rigged. Kenya has never had a successful military coup.
The opposition group cited documents it said “indicate that very large numbers of officers and soldiers will be participating in the plot,” including new troops being trained at barracks.
Army spokesman Paul Njuguna didn’t answer five calls from Bloomberg seeking comment. The Standard newspaper cited another military official, Joseph Owuoth, as saying the documents were authentic but they’d been quoted out of context and the army is apolitical.
“For some time now, we have been saying that President Uhuru Kenyatta is planning to overthrow the constitution and use the military to rig himself back in office after realizing he has lost the August elections,” the opposition coalition said. “We underestimated the scope of that dastardly threat which we have now revealed.”
Interior Ministry spokesman Mwenda Njoka on Friday described the claims as “a figment of their imagination” and “fake news.” The opposition is “trying to cause chaos using fake documents,” he said by phone. “If there was such an operation it wouldn’t be put on paper.”