Raila Odinga's chief agent in the August 9 presidential election Saitabao Ole Kanchory now claims three Azimio la Umoja - One Kenya coalition honchos cost the opposition leader the presidency.
In a recent interview with NTV, Kanchory alleged that the coalition's Secretary-General Junet Mohamed, Raila's spokesperson Makau Mutua and former ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru take the highest responsibility for the ODM party leader's loss to President William Ruto of the Kenya Kwanza Alliance.
According to the city lawyer, the trio mismanaged Azimio's internal systems including the agents system which failed on election day.
“We could not have lost the presidential election were it not for the three. I will tell you how they contributed to the defeat because they are the people I worked with and I respect them, but they take the highest responsibility for the loss,” Kanchory said.
He said Junet ran a one-man show and Raila sided with everything he said including some things that were obviously wrong.
“Junet was one man who purported to know everything and he nullified everything and anything everyone else said," he said.
“He ensured that he kept everyone who could have helped Baba (Raila) at arm’s length because he wanted to be the alpha and omega of the campaigns and the agents’ management system.
"...The only person Baba would listen to without question was Junet. Even if you had truth and you told Baba and Junet comes with darkness, Baba would side with Junet," he added.
On the other hand, Kanchory claimed that Mucheru bungled the agent's system by hiring his own people, who failed to deliver.
“He ensured everyone who had a role, including the people who printed basic stuff that I signed, were his people. The people who were typing the names were his people and were under instructions not to deliver," he alleged.
Kanchory claimed that the day Azimio's top brass said picked Mutua to be in charge of Azimio's command centre “is the day that everything else went south”.
“In my book, I have described him as deaf, mute, blind mouse that sees no evil, hears no evil and says no evil and that’s the kind of guy he is. You know, everything that went wrong, he was just brushing it aside,” Kanchory said.
But Mucheru dismissed Kanchory's claims, insisting that media and connectivity for results transmission were his only responsibilities in the coalition.
“It is on record that 99.96 per cent of polling stations transmitted their election results, it is also on record there was full uninterrupted media coverage of the elections and the Supreme Court proceedings,” Mucheru said.
On his part, Jubilee Secretary General Jeremiah Kioni blamed Raila's loss on a lack of agents in many polling stations in Mount Kenya, saying this paved way for electoral fraud which he claimed was aided by the electoral body's presiding officers.
“I will give you an example of one station in Karatina, where when the tallying got under way, and Raila had 402 votes, the Presiding Officer asked; na hizi na mwenyewe hatumuoni, mnataka tufanye nini nazo? (these votes whose agent is not here, what should we do with them?
“Weka kwa Ruto (give them to Ruto), the rival agents shouted.”
“So, 400 votes were put kwa Ruto, and two votes were put kwa Raila. That is really mismanagement by IEBC. Even if we mismanaged our agents, look at the dishonesty and the level of stealing,” Kioni said.
Embakasi East MP Babu Owino, who blames Raila's loss on his handshake with retired President Uhuru Kenyatta, said agents were deployed to the said areas but withdrew their services after the person who was to pay them embezzled the funds.
“There were agents in Central Kenya, but they withdrew because the person who was to pay them intentionally refused and they withdrew their services,” Owino said.
"Sometimes I wake in the middle of the night and ask myself what really happened. I would be serving Kenyans as CS for Interior or Education if Raila won elections," he added.
On his part, Kanchory distanced himself from the claims saying that the coalition had agents in the Mount Kenya region but they were corrupted by competitors and told to go home after casting their votes.
Raila says victory stolen
Despite the blame game, Raila insists his victory was stolen.
In a past interview, he faulted the Supreme Court for dismissing his election petition challenging President Ruto's victory, saying the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and the Judiciary were compromised to deny him the presidency.
In a judgement read by Chief Justice Martha Koome on September 5, the seven-judge bench unanimously ruled that the August 9 presidential election was conducted in line with the country’s constitution.
IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati had on August 15, 2022, declared that Ruto won the election with 7,176, 141 votes (50.49%) against Raila's 6, 942, 930 votes (48.85%).