Sunday, August 07, 2022

Kenya's "Deep State"

  The phrase  "deep state" conveys the idea of a powerful shadowy cabal, not officially elected to the government but, nonetheless, directing the country. The so-called cabal is said to influence choice positions and lucrative contracts in government and business.

In Kenya, supporters of leading presidential candidate Raila Odinga have always claimed that there was a conspiracy at the highest levels of government to deny the former prime minister, who lost the 2002, 2007, 2013 and 2017 presidential elections, the role.

In December 2019, former Deputy President Kalonzo Musyoka made possibly the earliest local mention of the phrase, in an interview with local private broadcaster Citizen TV. 

“Kenyans must know that there is a ‘deep state’ government,” he said. “A country is never run by these politicians who shout the loudest.”

A year later, Musyoka, an influential member of the Azimio La Umoja coalition which backs Odinga, said, “I don’t know if there is a deep state, what I know is there are interest groups and some of them have an enabling capacity.”

In September 2021, Francis Kimemia, a former public service head and current governor for Nyandarua county in central Kenya said, “The state exists. I can assure you it is deeper than deep. If you have two candidates at the rate of 50-50, and the ‘deep state’ backs one, you can be sure which one will win. The international community plays a great role in who becomes elected.”

In Kenya's current election campaign, the phrase is assuming dangerous dimensions. The term has been popularised by the Kenya Kwanza (meaning Kenya First in Swahili, – over the elite) – a nationalist coalition movement headed by deputy president and the other main presidential candidate, William Ruto.  A skilled orator, he is now framing the election as one of “hustlers” versus “dynasties”. This is in reference to the Azimio la Umoja coalition which has in its fold President Uhuru – scion of the Kenyattas (beginning with inaugural President Jomo Kenyatta in 1964) – along with the other leading presidential challenger Odinga (whose father Jaramogi Odinga was Kenya’s first vice president in 1964) and their supporter Gideon Moi (son of former President Daniel arap Moi). Members of the "deep state" are believed to be in the presidency, the security agencies, the electoral commission and other parts of the civil service that supposedly work in tandem as an “All-Seeing Eye”.

Ruto said at an August 6 press conference, “Irrespective of where we come from, today we stand together as a people and we have overcome the so-called system, the so-called deep state,” alluding to there being higher powers at play wanting to rig the elections against him. Ruto alleges that there were threats against his family and several communities, arising from “meetings that are being organised in dark places to orchestrate disharmony” including one that the president had supposedly attended.

Rival politicians, including Jubilee Party vice chairman David Murathe, say Ruto, one of the country’s wealthiest and most influential politicians, would himself be embedded in a “deep state”, if it were to exist.

The ‘deep state’ conspiracy theory tainting Kenya’s elections | News | Al Jazeera

No comments: