Kenya’s Bourgeoisie Media Picks Up “Stolen Presidency”


Book Review


By  KWAMCHETSI MAKOKHA Posted Friday, March 20 2009 at 20:22

So it is impossible to know who won Kenya’s 2007 presidential election? Not true, according to a new book published in Sweden that could rekindle debate on who exactly deserves to be president of Kenya. In his book, Raila Odinga’s Stolen Presidency: Consequences and the Future of Kenya, Okoth Osewe claims the Independent Review Commission (IREC) on the 2007 elections shielded the truth from Kenyans by saying it was impossible to know who won.

The book claims the Orange Democratic Movement’s Raila Odinga beat the Party of National Unity’s Mwai Kibaki by 246,987 votes.

Kenyan civil society groups have in the past dismissed IREC’s findings for not going far enough in the search for electoral truth but Osewe’s book is the first bold challenge to the verdict.

“Out of the 210 constituencies,” writes Osewe, “available documentary evidence indicates that ECK did a superb job in at least 161 constituencies in which results announced at the constituency level and certified by agents of political parties tallies (sic) with results announced by ECK (Electoral Commission of Kenya) at KICC (Kenyatta International Conference Centre).”

Although the author, a 44-year-old veterinarian and activist blogger, did not reproduce copies of the results in the 464-page book, he says he tracked down the records at the constituency level to compare them with those used by the ECK at the national tallying centre at the KICC.

“I obtained records of election results at the constituency level, records bearing the altered results (some altered by hand after they were received from the constituency) and records announced by ECK at KICC,” Osewe wrote in an e-mail to the Saturday Nation.

Despite the anomalies in the results records, which IREC readily acknowledged, Osewe says he went over the paperwork and found that the tally for the undisputed 161 constituencies put Mr Odinga in the lead with 3,734,972 against Mr Kibaki’s 2,269,612.

An examination of the election results documents from the 47 constituencies, whose outcomes ODM contested, the book adds, reveals that ECK officials at the national tallying centre wrongfully awarded 471,063 votes to Mr Kibaki.

The tally at the KICC also allegedly denied Mr Odinga 2,772 votes, which officials subsequently added to the PNU candidate’s total. Tallies excluded results from Makadara and Kamukunji constituencies because of irregularities.

Springing from IREC’s analysis of the results from 10 constituencies, which showed that Mr Kibaki received an erroneous 180,750 votes, the author takes the common sense approach. He examines outcomes from the remaining 37 disputed constituencies and concludes that the President received another 290,313 undeserved votes.

Mr Osewe criticises IREC’s decision to investigate the results of 19 constituencies, of which only 10 were disputed instead of investigating all the 47. It found that the documents were missing, unsigned as required by law or had wrong arithmetic.

The ECK announced that Mr Kibaki had won the election by 4,584,721 votes against Mr Odinga’s 4,352,993. The book claims this “blatant theft” was allowed to occur because Mr Odinga had made a tactical error by signing a memorandum of understanding with Kenyan Muslims.


He was thus viewed, according to the book, by Americans as inimical to their interests, hence the haste with which the United States Government sent a message of congratulations to Mr Kibaki before quickly retracting it.

Raila Odinga’s Stolen Presidency, which has 24 chapters, is as vociferous as it is polemical. It claims that the manipulation of the election results by the ECK officials was the last desperate effort to prevent Mr Odinga, now Prime Minister in the grand coalition Government, from ascending to the presidency.

Entrenched forces opposed to Mr Odinga’s ascendancy to power, claims the book, unsuccessfully tried to turn him into a bogeyman with greed for power, communism and failure to be circumcised.

Secondly, these forces allegedly attempted to create a split in the Orange Democratic Movement party of Kenya, on whose ticket Mr Kalonzo Musyoka contested for the presidency. The book asks whether Mr Musyoka was working for the Kibaki presidential campaign all along as he wrested control of ODM-Kenya from Mr Odinga ahead of the election.

His conduct at election time and after, and the alacrity with which he entered a coalition with President Kibaki are pointed out as telling.

The third scheme to scuttle Mr Odinga’s journey to State House, claims the writer, was by preventing him from being elected a member of Parliament for Lang’ata constituency. For a candidate to be elected president, he or she must be an elected MP.

When all these schemes fell through, claims Osewe, it became necessary to play the last card – use the ECK to manipulate the result.

Power sharing

Mr Odinga and his party have publicly insisted that they won the election but had to accede to power sharing as a way of ensuring peace.

The book is likely to readily face criticism for its lack of rigour. Critics will capitalise on the opacity of the methods the author used to study his subject, and the apparent lack of peer refereeing and editorial review to tear down his work.

The factual and typographical errors in the book, perhaps resulting from a lack of intimate familiarity with the subject, detract severely from the authority of the work.

Matters are not helped much by the fact that the publisher, iVisby AB, does not appear to be well-known, let alone respected for publishing in English. The writer uses political epithets that could easily annoy people who do not share his persuasion.

Osewe’s background as an investigator is not apparent – from the public record and the book.



Review of the Book “Raila Odinga’s Stolen Presidency”


  • Mr. Osewe, you must be happy with this review in Kenya’s biggest Daily. Despite the opportunistic criticisms, it gives the book a very good advert in Kenya. Makokha could have been more credible in his criticism if he went ahead and gave examples of the “factual errors… which detract severely from the authority of the work”.

    I have read this book very keenly and obviously, the capitalist ruling class will not like it because they are called “wealth grabbers”, “land grabbers” “looters of the economy”, “Election thieves” and so on. The book advocates for a “change of the system” and this may not go down well with people using the system to run down the country. The Nation newspaper is itself attacked in the book and now, it could be time to get even.

    I get the impression that Makokha has reviewed only one chapter of the book which deals with “How Raila Odinga’s Presidency was stolen” and left the other “hot stuff” out. This makes the review weak from a literary perspective. I think that Per Lindgren’s Review, which introduced the book to me, was more balanced and comprehensive. Anybody who has read the book will agree that Makokha’s critique is narrow.

    KSB: Mwatela, during the launch in Stockholm, I said that books are not written for people to agree on everything. I think the exposure in DN is important because Kenyans and others need to know about the book in order to read it and make their own conclusions, just as you have done. I know what Makokha is avoiding and why because I have been in touch with The Nation the whole week.

  • It’s interesting how carefully the reviewer steers clear of the language that the book actually uses. He goes for the easy pickings, but this’s in line with the Daily Nation’s sissy reporting during the post-election violence. I don’t know what the editors are thinking–by avoiding a frank discussion of the alleged “Kikuyu Mafia” and how they stole the election, we avoid talking with honesty about ourselves as a society.

  • I did not expect a veteran journalist like Makokha to be so biased in his review of the book. But again, what can one expect from the Nation newspaper which is a mouthpiece for a clique of Kenya’s ruling class?

    I have read many chapters in the book, but have not encountered the numerous typographical errors Makokha claims. The referencing is clear and supports the facts presented by Osewe. Makokha simply picked a section that interested him, then tore into it without following the processes that led to the bungled election. Whichever way, the message is out there for all to read and criticize.

    I agree with Tom Mwatela that Per Lindgren’s review was holistic and balanced.

  • Richard Odenyo

    Osewe you should know that this book is going to create a lot of havoc when it reaches Kenya and I can understand why it is already being fought by biased media like the Nation.

    I want to add my voice among people who have read it. The problem with the book is that it goes beyond election rigging and says the naked truth about who is really in control of our country. Its good that you are not shielding Kenyans from the truth and you call a thief a thief. Thanks for writing this book.

  • Salim Lone: We Kenyans are the victims of an outrage

    The lights went out on Kenya last night. In what was easily the most tense and exciting moment in our history, every Kenyan with access to a television sat riveted in front of it. They were watching the unfolding drama of the Electoral Commission reading out the last set of constituency results that would determine who would be the country’s next president.

    Vigorous objections were being raised by the opposition Orange Democratic Movement to the blatant doctoring of the election figures that had been agreed on jointly at the constituency by all political parties and forwarded to election headquarters for national tallying.

    Suddenly, the screens of all television channels went dark, except on the government-owned broadcaster. A couple of hours later, as ODM presidential candidate Raila Odinga was doing a live press conference, the plug was again pulled. Now the media has been banned from doing live broadcasts of any news events.

    These are very dark days for a country which was convinced that the great democratic enterprise that Kenyans seized with gusto after the ousting of the autocratic and universally vilified Daniel arap Moi’s would not be allowed to falter. The government has stolen an election that had been the freest and most exhilarating in our history.

    It had been clear from the outset, with every single poll showing Mr Odinga ahead of President Mwai Kibaki nationally, that the government was determined to hang on to power and would not countenance a defeat. News reports daily were filled with allegations of widespread government rigging, through tampering with voters’ registers, purchase of voters’ cards, printing fake ballot papers and directly and illegally bribing voters.

    And so the results from 48 of the 210 constituencies were published without supporting documentation, or with use of figures which were grossly inflated from the ones filed from the field. The electoral commission has blithely refused to address this issue and comprehensively undermined its credibility.

    As the European Union observer mission indicated in its report, its representative in Molo in the former White Highlands witnessed the recording of 50,000 votes for President Kibaki, but the result announced in Nairobi gave the president nearly 75,000 votes. Overall, ODM asserts that at least 750,000 votes were stolen, and the final 230,000 margin announced for Mr Kibaki camouflaged a 500,000 vote victory for Mr Odinga.

    But at constituency level, where doctoring results is much harder, voters ejected an astounding 20 of Mr Kibaki’s Cabinet Ministers. And his own party won only 35 seats in the new Parliament, while Mr Odinga’s ODM has at least 100. This is an astounding rejection of the government, and undermines any claim that it could have legitimately won the presidential election.

    More important, it will be extremely difficult to govern a disenchanted nation. Kenyans are not going to accept that the man they are convinced won the election should be kept from assuming power. There is bitter anger in much of the nation, and violence has claimed scores of lives in the last 24 hours.

  • Stolen elections

    Kenya carries on stolen tradition

    Its perception as a model of democracy in Africa is shattered by its history.
    By Martin Meredith
    January 5, 2008

    Stealing elections has been a common practice in Africa for more than 40 years. African presidents and the ruling elites that surround them have routinely colluded with loyal officials to stuff ballot boxes, intimidate opponents, distribute bribes, monopolize the state-run media, muzzle the independent press and manipulate the vote-tallying to ensure they hold on to power. The spoils of office are too great to resist.

    Political power means personal wealth, contracts, commissions, quick profits and rewards for supporters. Time and again, African politics have been reduced to a game of winner-takes-all.

    Kenya, so often spoken of as a model of stability, has been no exception. Its first president, Jomo Kenyatta, started the trend after independence in 1963, favoring businessmen from the Kikuyu tribe and allowing his inner circle of Kikuyu advisors to make fortunes; his young wife, Ngina, became one of the richest individuals in the country, building a business empire that included plantations, ranches, property and hotels.

    When a populist politician, J.M. Kariuki, openly attacked the ruling elite — “We do not want a Kenya of 10 millionaires and 10 million beggars” — he was murdered on the orders of Kenyatta’s officials. Kenyatta also dealt ruthlessly with a Luo opposition party led by Oginga Odinga, banning it.

    Kenya’s second president, Daniel Arap Moi, plundered state funds at will to satisfy himself, his family and his entourage of Kalenjin cronies, accumulating over 24 years a personal fortune estimated at $3 billion. He maintained his grip on power by harassing and imprisoning dissidents, condoning torture and curtailing the autonomy of judges. He turned the civil service into a party machine and allowed corruption to run rampant.

    A prominent Luo politician investigating high-level corruption was murdered; one of Moi’s own ministers was implicated but was released for “lack of evidence.” Elections during Moi’s tenure were little more than a sham. Only in 2002, after Western nations that supplied foreign aid money insisted that proper elections be held, was Moi obliged to stand down.

    His successor, Mwai Kibaki, a veteran Kikuyu politician, spoke of inheriting “a country badly ravaged by years of misrule and ineptitude,” and he pledged to root out corruption. “Corruption will cease to be a way of life in Kenya,” he declared. But no sooner had Moi’s inner circle of Kalenjin politicians departed — the “Karbanet syndicate” as they were known — than they were replaced by Kibaki’s “Mount Kenya mafia” of Kikuyu politicians who swiftly set up their own lucrative deals.,0,6459457.story?coll=la-opinion-center

  • Obviously The Nation newspaper will most likely encourage negative criticism of the book but anybody who has read the book knows that the book has shaded alot of light not only on the stolen elections but also on the motives behind the stolen election.

    Agar Gaya. STOCKHOLM

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