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Monday, February 18, 2008

Why Has Salim Lone Fled From Kenya?

Famous Veteran Kenyan Journalist, ODM Communications Chief And Former United Nations Media Director Tells Friends That He Feared For His Life…

Sometime today (Monday Feb 18th 2008) some top ODM officials will get a little surprised when the party communications chief Salim Lone fails to return from what was supposed to be a brief trip to New York hurriedly taken last week.

The truth is that Salim Lone has been telling close friends abroad that he fled for his life from Kenya after threats from PNU. However a few things do not add up. Why keep everything secret from the ODM top brass? And if it is true that he was threatened, why has he still not gone public with the story that he has told many close friends?

Actually Lone’s action has caused lots of anxiety amongst close analysts and observers of the Kenyan situation but before I tell you why, a brief introduction of Lone to those who may not know him is in order.

Salim Lone is a Kenyan by nationality, a veteran journalist, and former Director of the News and Media Division, Department of Public Information, of the United Nations. He has also been a rather prolific columnist for the Daily Nation and also writes regularly for The Guardian in the UK.

Salim Lone was director of the news and media division (1998-2003) during his twenty one year career at United Nations headquarters. His last assignment was as spokesman for the UN mission in Iraq immediately after the US-led 2003 war and occupation.

Lone was the founding editor of the pioneer woman’s monthly in Kenya, Viva in the 70s and was in fact forced to flee the country during the early Moi years fearing arrest for some of his political pieces in Viva a magazine. That was what led to his arrival in New York and a 21 year career at the UN. Still he is no stranger to harassment from Kenyan security agents in those terrible years of limited press freedom where numerous activists disappeared and brave writers disappeared without trace.

So the truth is that Lone does not scare easily. That is why analysts are ev en more worried and are wondering what exactly caused the ODM communications director to suddenly hop onto a plane and flee.

Admittedly, it seems clear that Lone no longer felt safe in Kenya. But what is this threat which ODM and Raila Odinga could NOT adequately protect him from? And why keep his intentions secret by telling ODM colleagues that he was away briefly and would be back by Monday (today)?

Clearly Lone knows something that many of us do not know yet. One theory is that he was made aware that President Kibaki is about to arrest and detain without trial, all top pentagon members and their close associates. (Yes, the constitution still empowers him to d just that). The information that Kumekucha has from impeccable sources is that the Kamikaze-like Kibaki administration has been agonizing for weeks now over this decision. Hardliners within the Kibaki camp favor such a move and have been pushing for it. Those who know the president are well aware of his weakness of avoiding to make decisions until it is too late. He delayed his exit from Kanu until the very last minute and even waited until Christmas day December 1991 to announce his defection from Kanu to form his own political party, DP (Democratic Party).

Again, during his first term as president, Kibaki delayed making a decision about the LDP rebels within the Narc coalition and as a result allowed the rebellion to spread and the popularity of the rebels to rise to the detriment of his own. And when he finally got rid of them, he did it by dissolving the entire government. He however got a rude shock when for the first time in Kenya’s history a number of politicians rejected their appointments to the cabinet. Only a last minute desperate deal with Ford Kenya ad Musikari Kombo as well as Charity Ngilu, saved his government.

True to form, those who know the president well are predicting that he is about to make a drastic belated step in restoring order and stamping his authority as the “duly elected president.” Never mind about the Anan talks.

Another theory to explain Salim Lone’s decision to flee Kenya so suddenly is the much-talked about second wave of violence, which the Kalenjin community has called the “coming war,” which is widely expected to beak out if and when the Anan talks fail to reach an agreeable conclusion. It is possible that Lone felt that it would be difficult to leave the country then and therefore opted to flee early before the human waste hits the fun, as some people say.

This is the kind f speculation that has kept most analysts on their toes, even as Lone sticks to his story that he was threatened by some sympathizers of PNU. Whatever anybody wants to believe, it is clear that something very major is about to happen in Kenya.

Read a recent article on Salim Lone, complete with pictures.

P.S. This is a rather humbling time for Kenya. About two years ago a brief discussion about Kenya in Washington between Tanzanian president Jakaya Kikwete and President Bush sparked off a diplomatic row with complaints coming from the Kenya foreign office. Yesterday a similar discussion took place in Dar-es-salaam between Bush and Kikwete and this time there wasn’t even a whimper from Kenya.

Read the full account
of this meeting that ended with Bush leaving a grant of almost one billion US dollars to President Kikwete and Tanzania.


Wanjiku - Mombasa said...

Detain all pentagon members and their close associates? Were the situation in Kenya not so grim this idea would have been amusing. But there's not telling what Kibaki and his cabal of hardliners might do if pushed to the extreme. He may have a few more cards up his sleeve but if he resorts to detention without trial he'll have given a whole new meaning to 'clinging to power'. Not that he cares. He could also stand a very good chance of loosing even the fanatical support coming from some regions although that may not bother him as such either. I doubt those Mount Kenya MPs who of late have become so fond of press conferences will be anywhere to be seen. Who will want to be a part of what might follow such an irrational move?

bloggeratti said...

Er Chris.

One thing we always forget when discussing politics on Kumekucha is that ODM and PNU politicians are two different versions of the same demon.

Might it have occured to you that Salim Lone was in RAO's bad books. Some whispers indicated that RAO is turning to not-so-rosy tactics to keep the troops in line from the "gravy train" onslaught of PNU.

Further whispers intimate that that may be the reason why one of the slain ODM MP's (RIP) met their grisly ends.

Worth looking into, innit?

Anonymous said...

bloggeratti said...

Er Chris.

One thing we always forget when discussing politics on Kumekucha is that ODM and PNU politicians are two different versions of the same demon.

Might it have occured to you that Salim Lone was in RAO's bad books. Some whispers indicated that RAO is turning to not-so-rosy tactics to keep the troops in line from the "gravy train" onslaught of PNU.

Further whispers intimate that that may be the reason why one of the slain ODM MP's (RIP) met their grisly ends.

Worth looking into, innit?
Wrong again
sources say he had PNU- threat some even went to his house, police in plain cloths were following him and late night cars outside his house!!
who do you think was doing all this to scare him??

Anonymous said...

Salim was being followed by plain dressed police upto his house-some PNU MP even threatened him that he was not indispensable and to watch out- cars driving upto his gate and turning back late at night?? if it were you would you stay around to find out?? or run??
Kibaki has assassinated two MP already!! you think one more person would rise hair off his back ?? I doubt- it will be Kazi iendelee as usual
I'm glad he is somewhere safe!! for now

Anonymous said...


Here is a practical way to remember the difference between loose and lose.

Loose refers to not tight. Such as a loose screw, loose woman. Always drag the pronunciation of the word loose.

To lose on the other hand is either fail to win(as in lose a match) or lose with past tense of lost. Lose my watch/lost my watch.

Clearly in this case you meant lose.

Other comments.

I don't think Kibaki and his comrades are in a position to adopt further far reaching actions on ODM. For one, it will make the western part of the country more ungovernable. Secondly it will for sure herald the promised freeze on assets of Kibaki allies. In as much as people might think otherwise, Western Kenya is an economic powerhouse. Kibaki administration will be killing one of the geese that lays the golden eggs, if it does not make suer naormality returns to Western Kenya. With continued trouble in Western Kenya, we really dont know what M7 and Kagame will do next. Remember, Kagame is not even pro Kibaki and M7 is only pro Kibaki while it suits him

Anonymous said...

This article makes no sense. As this site constantly reminds us ODM leadership and faithful are subjected to threats and intimidation every single day. U r suggesting that Lone is just lilly-livered. A coward even after his experiences of being a dissident in the Moi era.

No. This is the beginning of the breakaway of right-thinking persons from Raila-Ruto madness. He very probably disagrees with their political strategy (read murder and mayhem for power). But like the Mafia these lot wouldnt let him out. Not with his life anyhow. Afterall, if Raila-Ruto wanted someone dead, all they have to do is claim that Gvt did it. So Salim has concocted a story and not a very believable one at that. Hes trying not to make enemies with the one man who really knows how to hold a grudge. Simple. Now doesnt that make more sense.

Now if only Musalia, Ngilu, Marende and all others with any trace of humanity (both ODM and PNU) would also defect. Maybe start a party. Then we would finally have a THIRD way.

Anonymous said...

Explaining the Gema Ruto-phobia
William Kipchirchir Samoei arap Ruto is young, sexy, charismatic and stinking rich. He is a politician, a leader and a businessman. All these cast into one, add that to him being dangerously sharp and witty and you know why the hate groups are swelling in like manner. Ruto is a good orator and he belongs to a generation in the Kalenjin community that prides itself for courage. The Kaplelach generation is one full cycle complete after the previous one which was represented by none other than Koitalel Samoei, the Nandi Orkoiyot.

Those who like the man do so with religious reverence. Those who hate him are equally passionate about their feelings. The haters have brought a new dimension to Ruto-phobia. There is now a sustained media and cyber-campaign to tarnish the man who can articulate his position without fear. He is unfairly linked to the post election violence.

But why do Gema and PNU-leaning politicians loathe Ruto? The man is one of the brains behind the Orange Movement that would later transformed into the political party that won the 2007 election in Kenya. An astute team player, Ruto would later help strike a regional deal to solidify the Western Kenya Alliance of Luhya, Kalenjin and Luo communities in ODM while solidifying Coast and North Eastern regions to the surprise of many a political pundit.

Ruto is widely perceived by GEMA (Gikuyu, Embu, Meru) hardliners as a representation of a resurgence and virulent independence of an ill-perceived Kalenjin hegemony and a quest to establish an autonomous Western Kenya jimbo, which, according to them, will engage in the business of driving away non-indigenous communities (read Kikuyu) from parts of Rift Valley. He is feared, in fact loathed. This does not wash; not in Rift Valley. The people of Rift Valley see a leader they trust.

The Mt. Kenya Mafia planned to use former President Moi in the Kibaki 2007 re-election campaigns to marshal the rich vote-basket Rift Valley for the bandit president. It was a tragedy. William Ruto, the ODM pointman of the Rift Valley held a mammoth rally in Moi’s Kabarnet backyard where he engaged him in a barrage of slur. Mzee Moi has never recovered from the humiliation he faced. Ruto led a strong campaign against Moi’s three sons Gideon Moi, Jonathan Toroitich and Raymond Moi and his protege, John Lokorio, who were contesting for parliamentary seats in Koibatek and Baringo districts. They all lost. Moi’s attempt to reach out to the people of Rift Valley to support Kibaki was met with rage and fervent resistance, with the province instead throwing its weight behind Mr Ruto.

The man was also in charge of the troops that fell the Goliath of Keiyo South Nicholas Biwott. The GEMA operatives then shifted their base to Bomet, Kericho and Nandi, hiring crowds to attend PNU rallies using Kalenjiin traitors Salat, Sang, Kimeto, Tarus and Barngetuny. They were shocked at the stanch and following ODM enjoyed from the community. By December 27, Ruto had rendered Moi permanently irrelevant in Rift Valley politics. Moi now spends most of his time in hospitals. The last time I heard of him he was seeing Dr. Silverstein, after spending weeks in Germany in the winter.

When parliament was summoned by bandit Kibaki, Ruto treated the house to brave theatrics which have only been a preserve of lawyers. In the ensuing stalemate following the stolen presidency, Ruto was conscripted to provide bedrock support at the mediation. Even after a sub-committee was constituted to fine-tune a power-sharing arrangement, ODM did not flood the team with lawyers as did PNU. Ruto, a peace-maker and strategist was in the core team that is driving the details of a transitional power-sharing pending proper elections.

And as the talks edge towards conclusion, it is becoming clear that power sharing is the only option out of the deadlock. Who knows who Raila Odinga may pick for the post of Prime Minister to fight the ‘wars’ in the House as he consolidates his troops for a grand election without the black-and-blue President Kibaki who many think may not be contesting for the presidency in two years? Watch this space.

Unfortunate attempts have been made to link Mr Ruto to an unfortunate torching of a Church in his Eldoret North Constituency. In fact PNU has attempted to link the key leaders of the ODM party to the mayhem in the country. That violence was spontaneous and it was reported in other places. If those who claim that Ruto organized the arson in Eldoret were sincere, what would they say about the Mungiki arson of 20 Luos in Naivasha? Were they funded by the area Kanu-MP, Hon. John Michael Njenga Mututho?

Ruto represents the future of Kalenjiin leadership and to attempt to link him to genocide is an attempt to drag the whole community into a needless strife with the illegitimate regime of Mwai Kibaki. The Kalenjiin will not take it lying down.


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