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Is Kenya’s ‘deep state’ a reality or scarecrow in its democracy?

By Son Gatitu
Posted on Tuesday, 5 October 2021 17:49, updated on Wednesday, 6 October 2021 10:14

Kenya Election
A registered voter casts his vote in a box during an election mock voting exercise organized by the IEBC and sponsored by the UNDP at the Marycliffe Primary School in Kibera, Kenya on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013. (AP Photo/Khalil Senosi)

Ahead of Kenya’s general election set for August 2022, the electoral commission is busy laying down a system for an elaborate electoral infrastructure governed by strict laws, rules and regulations. Presidential hopefuls have been crisscrossing the country, despite Covid-19 restrictions, in a bid to stay ahead of the competition. However, will the 2022 election be a democratic exercise where voters choose their leaders through the ballot or will it be a Trojan-horsed poll, where invisible powerful forces - informally referred to as 'the deep state' - have a hand?

During an interview with Citizen TV in December 2019, former vice president Kalonzo Musyoka sensationally alluded to the power of the ‘deep state’. “Kenyans must know that there is a ‘deep state’ government […] I don’t even need to name them… A country is never run by these politicians who shout [the] loudest.”

Then on 21 September 2021, Francis Kimemia – a former head of public service – told Citizen TV: “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.”