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No, letter from Kenya opposition not fake, official position on impeachment of Nairobi governor

A document on the letterhead of Kenya’s official opposition party, the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), with “FAKE” stamped across it in red has been posted on Facebook. 

The post’s comment reads: “Fake News. The Clear Odm Position was communicated by H.E Raila Amollo Odinga via Hon George Aladwa the Odm Nairobi Chairman.”

The letter is signed by Edwin Sifuna, secretary general of the ODM, and dated 19 February 2020.The red stamp hides most of it, but it seems to be headed: “ODM POSITION ON NAIROBI COUNTY GOVERNOR”.

The final paragraph appears to “remind” party members that “official communication on the party ... on any matter is the responsibility of the Secretary General”.

What the Facebook user is suggesting is that a previous letter allegedly written by George Aladwa, chair of the ODM in Nairobi county, is in fact the ODM’s official position on the current impeachment hearings against Nairobi governor Mike Sonko.

Sonko, a member of the ruling Jubilee Party, was elected Nairobi county governor in 2017. He was arrested in December 2019 on corruption charges.

Aladwa’s letter has also been shared on Facebook and is also dated 19 February.

In the letter, Aladwa writes that he would like to address “the allegations that have been making rounds that our party has taken a position to support the alleged impeachment of His Excellency Governor Mike Mbuvi Sonko”.

He says he has been “directed by the Party Leader RT Hon. Raila Odinga to advise the honourable members that the party is NOT supporting the move”.

Is Sifuna’s letter setting out the ODM’s official position on Sonko in fact fake? We checked.

Letter posted on ODM Twitter account

On 19 February, the ODM posted Sifuna’s letter on its verified Twitter account. Here the whole letter is legible, and is a response to the letter allegedly written by Aladwa.

The ODM tweeted: “Secretary General @edwinsifuna has clarified that the letter allegedly authored by the Party’s Nairobi County Chairman Hon. @aladwa_george is not the official party position with regard to the matter before the County Assembly of Nairobi on Governor Mike Mbuvi Sonko.”

The letter reads: “We wish to make it clear that the party and the party leader do not and will not interfere with the power granted directly by the people to members of the County Assembly in exercise of any of their functions including over-sighting the executive.”

The letter signed by ODM secretary general Sifuna is not fake, but states the ODM’s official position on Nairobi governor Sonko’s impeachment. – Grace Gichuhi


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