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By Joseph Lister Nyaringo

When Kenya’s state machinery recently blocked Deputy President William Ruto from a private engagement in Uganda, it reflected the desperation and the fear the government he serves has towards his candidature to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta in next year’s general election.

If indeed Ruto, has been travelling outside the country before without any fuss, why start restricting him now when the country is less than a year to the next election?

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a senior government official or a regular citizen who is curtailed from exercising his or her freedom of movement and assembly… All Kenyans have a right to enjoy the rights and fundamental freedoms in the Bill of Rights as provided in the current constitution.

Using state machinery to stifle the movement of the country’s deputy president is so humiliating and a sign of fearmongering.

If Ruto’s “hustler movement” campaign slogan has spiralled Ruto’s support base in the country against the expectations of his boss-President Uhuru Kenyatta, so be it. Democracy MUST be left to take its course.

You can try to silence the singer, but you can’t kill the song. As Kenya strides towards the 2022 general election, Ruto’s political momentum continues to shine. This created a state of panic to President Kenyatta and Ruto’s political opponents like former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, former Vice Presidents, Musalia Mudavadi and Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka.

On the aborted trip to Uganda, a Turkish national, Harun Aydin, who has since been deported to his country, has been strongly associated with Ruto in a negative way. This is despite the Kenyan government records indicating that, he indeed has a legit Kenyan work permit with business interests in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.

While it’s prudent to protect Kenyans from undesirable foreign characters, it doesn’t appear like the Turkish national posed any grave danger to the safety and security of Kenyans.

I challenge the government of Kenya through the registrar of companies, the National Intelligence Service (NIS), the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), the Banking and Fraud Unit (BFU) and the office of the Ugandan High Commission in Nairobi to tell the country what they know about Mr Aydin.

First, what is anathema is associating the Turkish man with terrorism when he is a friend to Kenya’s Deputy President. Secondly, going ahead to deport the man has completely diluted the truth and reflected that, the government of Kenya is not being honest with the truth.

Terrorism poses a direct threat to global peace and security. In the last 4 decades, Kenya has suffered massively at the hands of terrorists. That’s why it’s a delicate balance to associate a Kenyan or even a foreigner with the heinous act. The first terror activity in the country occurred in 1980 at the Norfolk hotel, which was owned by Israelis. It was followed 18 years later by the 1998 US embassy bombing. Other sad memories include the West Gate Mall, Garissa University and Nairobi DuistD2 hotel attacks.

If indeed the government had enough evidence that Turkish man who is Ruto’s friend is a terrorist, the best thing to do was not to deport him but rather to adduce evidence in a court of law, have him face justice in Kenya.

Every human being trudging in the land of Kenya should be subjected to due process. Many Kenyans are in a quandary whether they will ever know the truth about the Turkish national after he was clandestinely deported out of the country. This is despite the government of Kenya stating that Mr Aydin, out of his own volition, decided to fly to his motherland.

I wonder how an alleged criminal “terrorist” could dictate authorities in a country with a sound criminal justice system to do what he wants. Secondly, I wonder why the government of Kenya has not asked deputy President Ruto, to record a statement about his association with the Turkish national and the aborted Ugandan trip.

The government cannot act like cartographers who say we have latitude and longitude lines running in the vertical and horizontal positions of the Earth but still maintain that the lines are imaginary!

Is Aydin, a terrorist or it’s a mere scheme to damage Ruto’s reputation since he is currently the frontrunner to succeed President Kenyatta? 

The Kenyan society has an informed citizenry. That’s why Propaganda and innuendos may not sway their opinion about current political leaders running for high office in the country. In fact, the negative maneuvers by the government to derail Ruto politically may end up working for the downfall of the candidate President Kenyatta wants to groom as his successor.

Presidential hopefuls who are friendly to Uhuru, like Odinga, Mudavadi and Kalonzo must tread carefully lest they ruin their bid.

What Ruto, is going through in a government he serves as deputy, is not a new phenomenon in Kenya’s political terrain. The late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga and Daniel Moi, went through agony under Kenya’s first President Jomo Kenyatta. Even the late George Saitoti, and Dr Josephat Karanja never found it rosy while serving under the Daniel Moi Presidency.

As debate rages on the Uhuru succession, many Kenyans who remember the country’s history in the freedom struggle believe that blocking Ruto from visiting Uganda is rewinding back the clock to the dictatorial KANU days of the late president Daniel Moi.

Its retrogressive, archaic, and dictatorial, at this age and time to prevent a Kenyan from exercising his or her freedoms of movement and assembly. After all, freedom is a God-given tenet, unless one wants to exercise it by exerting evil schemes upon others.  

Power is temporary; power doesn’t last forever. One can be at the top but may not remain there forever. Today, Jacob Zuma, the former President of South Africa, the continent’s richest country is in prison for being in contempt of court.

President Kenyatta, Odinga, Mudavadi and Kalonzo seem to have forgotten the psyche of Kenyan voters. They always like identifying themselves with the man or woman who is castigated and humiliated by the political elite. This is the category Ruto falls under today.  

Finally, I want to challenge the government of Kenya to arrest Ruto and have him judged in a court of law. We are tired of imaginary labels on leaders when we have a functioning judiciary and investigative organs.

Nyaringo is the President of Kenya Patriotic Movement, a diaspora lobby based in the US

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