How Francis Ole Kaparo Foiled a Plot to Kick Moi Out of Kabarnet Gardens

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A group of MPs plotted to have the late President Moi kicked out of his Kabarnet Gardens home after he retired in 2003.

President Daniel Arap Moi during his retirement

Speaking to a daily newspaper, Francis Ole Kaparo revealed that he had to broker a secret meeting between Daniel Arap Moi and Emilio Mwai Kibaki after the 2002 General Election which Kibaki won by a landslide.

Kaparo learned about the plot from Moi’s aide John Lokorio. He earnestly warned the President against allowing the scheme to come to pass.

“Nilienda kumwona rais Kibaki nikamwambia hiyo ikifanyika mtakuwa mmewasha moto hamuezi zima,” Kaparo told The Standard Newspaper.

After the meeting between the two leaders, the matter was laid to rest and Mzee Moi went on to occupy Kabarnet Gardens until his death on February 4th, 2020.

Order! Order!

Born in 1950, Kaparo was the longest-serving and most respected Speaker of the National Assembly. He was Speaker from 1993 to 2008, when Kenneth Marende took over.

Francis Ole Kaparo was also Minister for Labour (1990-1991), as well as Assistant Minister for National Guidance and Political Affairs (1988-1989) and Supplies and Marketing (1989-1990).

Kaparo told journalists that the late Moi was more like a father to him.

Even though Kaparo now serves as the chairman of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission, he is still best known for his role as Speaker of the National Assembly.

Francis Xavier Ole Kaparo’s unmistakable voice reverberated across the halls of Parliament when he shouted Order! Order! from his Speaker’s Seat. Kaparo kept an orderly house by calling the house to order and sending unruly MPs out of the chambers.

Ultimately, he was voted out in 2008 in favor of ODM’s Kenneth Marende.

Humiliation

If the NARC MPs had succeeded in kicking Moi out of Kabarnet Gardens, it would only have been one of a series of humiliations the retired president had already endured.

From the moment when Moi’s preferred candidate Uhuru Kenyatta conceded defeat on December 29th, 2002, a series of dramatic and humiliating events were set in motion.

The NARC coalition led by Kibaki and Raila Odinga was taking over. NARC won by a landslide, and Kenyatta thanked Moi for a peaceful election. The Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) announced that Mwai Kibaki was the president-elect.

Kibaki’s swearing-in was the most unruly presidential event in living memory. Chief Justice Bernard Chunga officiated the swearing-in. Five years later, Kibaki’s second swearing-in was to be equally tumultuous. It was stained by an air of tension, anger, and fear and followed by more than a month of deadly violence. He is the only Kenyan president to be sworn in at night.

According to Moi’s press secretary Lee Njiru, the transition team refused to share information on the swearing-in ceremony with Moi.

According to Njiru, this was meant to create the impression that Mzee Moi was not going to leave office willingly. Kibaki’s team was telling Moi to remain at State House waiting for further information. Njiru said that they wanted to engineer a situation where they would eject him forcibly from State House.

By 3 pm, Moi was impatient. He told his Security team to drive him to Uhuru Park so that he could peacefully hand over the instruments of power. In the end, Moi left alone with Lee Njiru. He believed that it was necessary to act quickly to prevent violence.

President Daniel Moi in his younger years

They drove through an irate crowd that was singing ‘Yote Yawezekana Bila Moi.’ Mud, stones, and even after taking his position on the dais, Moi braved insults and mud thrown at him by angry crowds.

By the time the ceremony was over, Sally Kosgey had lost her shoes. Daniel Moi had no opportunity to address the people. Kibaki, too, never acknowledged Moi in his speech, except to say that he was inheriting a country that was ‘ravaged by years of misrule and ineptitude.’

Njiru said that Moi was well prepared for the chaos at Uhuru Park, thanks to his past experiences with Mzee Jomo Kenyatta’s men who plotted to keep him from taking over power in 1978.

But according to officials from Kibaki’s NARC, coalition, the chaos was as a result of disorganization and not any kind of sinister plot. Former Minister Joseph Munyao said that there was no coordination between Kibaki’s and Moi’s aides. Munyao says that it was Moi who was afraid of them.

Later on, Moi assured Kenyans that he had forgiven everyone who insulted him. He also asked forgiveness from all those whom he had wronged.

Moi himself has never spoken publicly about the events of that fateful day. He has never spoken about his succession. We can only go by Lee Njiru’s words. Njiru served by Moi’s side all through his term of 24 years, 4 months, and 8 days.

Moi himself maintained a stoic resolution to hand over power publicly at Uhuru Park. Moi’s aide Sally Kosgey wept as she watched Moi board a plane at State House grounds

Njiru has worked with Moi for 40 years. He said that as early as February of 2002, Moi had already told him to prepare for retirement.

Even though Moi himself had announced repeatedly his intention to retire, a few of his cabinet members were calling for him to stay on in power, which fueled rumors among the opposition that he would not retire.

The rumors were curious since Moi himself was not even a candidate in the December 2002 election.

Moi’s own Party Kanu was already weakened. His open favoritism of Uhuru Kenyatta had alienated many of his would-be allies who had quickly jumped ship to the opposition.

Lonely

After the ceremony at Uhuru Park was over, Moi made his way back to Statehouse where he received a final military salute.

A military plane flew the then retired president to Kabarak. Dr. Sally Kosgey wept as she watched him boarding the helicopter.

It was a gloomy 40-minute flight. Njiru says that Moi was quiet and calm. His family was waiting for him at Kabarak where they had tea and the plane left.

Njiru describes the day as the lowest moment in his carer in public service.

The retired president cut a lonely figure in his retirement.
Deputy President William Ruto has famously narrated how he was sitting with a group of 40 people in a room in State House when President Daniel Arap Moi asked him to call Uhuru and write a concession speech. By the time the speech was complete, there were only 3 people left in the room.

Moi handled his retirement well, all things considered.

 

 

 

 

 

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