May 27, 2013


TJRC’S dramatic Ouko murder finding: why was it not reported? Why were others silent for all these years? Ouko did not meet with Bush on the Washington trip.

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TJRC’S dramatic Robert Ouko murder finding: why was it not reported?

TJRC’S dramatic Robert Ouko murder finding: why was it not reported?

Robert Ouko murder revelation at TJRC should have been front page news

You may have missed the accurate reporting of what the TJRC really concluded about one of the theories behind Dr Robert Ouko’s murder in February 1990, not least because for what ever reason it has only been reported very inaccurately by one newspaper and not at all by others. It should have been front page news, such was the significance of the TJRC’s finding, and the questions that arise are not only startling, they need answering.

TJRC: George Bush Snr and Robert Ouko did not meet on ‘Washington trip’

The front page coverage in the Daily Nation of the TJRC report’s findings (‘How they were killed’, Friday, May 24) said that ‘Dr Ouko was killed not long after a US trip in which he had an audience with President Bush’. That was 180 degrees from what the TJRC really concluded. The TJRC actually found that, ‘the Washington Trip theory revolves around a private meeting with President Bush and Ouko that never actually occurred’ (Vol. II A, Chapter Four, paragraph 131).

The TJRC’s game-changing conclusion was absolutely right, as the Kenya Forum knows well and as too, for many years, have so many others (on that point, more, later.)

Robert Ouko’s murder: the ‘Washington Trip’ theory

The ‘Washington Trip theory’, that President Bush had privately met with Dr Ouko and that this had angered President and led to a row which in turn was a motive for Ouko’s murder, was almost entirely based on the testimony of one of Dr Ouko’s brothers, Barrack Mbajah. He said he heard the story from a Malacki Oddenyo, Dr Ouko’s Director of Information but Oddenyo denied ever having said any such thing and neither Oddenyo nor Mbajah had been on the ‘Washington Trip’.

Against Barrack Mbajah’s theory stood the entire Kenyan delegation to Washington, leading diplomats responsible for organizing the visit, the US embassy in Nairobi, and President Bush Snr himself.

In investigations into Ouko murder, Kenyan testimonies not believed

Dr Ouko returns with Moi and his delegation. Nation Media Archives Feb 4, 1990

None of the 84 Kenyans on the visit to Washington knew of a meeting between Bush and Ouko; Moses Njuuna Mahugu, Chief of Protocol at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told Scotland Yard that there had been no meeting; Kenya’s Ambassador in the United States at the time, Denis Afande, also issued a statement that there had been no meeting; but the British detective, Troon, believed Mbajah.

President Bush knew there was no meeting

Unfortunately, the word of 86 Kenyans was not sufficient for Troon, or others since. That being so, the Kenya Forum asks its readers to consider the following.

In 2000 the Bush Library stated that a search of their archives showed no record of a meeting between the US President and Dr Ouko during the Washington trip.

This view was backed up in August 2000 by President’s Bush’s lawyers (Andrew & Kurth LLP) as being ‘the most accurate record of the events described’ (and they would not have been able to write that without Bush’s permission).

In 2003 President Bush’s official diary for the period of the Washington trip, which recorded his every move for the period, minute-by-minute, was released. Again, there was no mention of a meeting between Bush and Ouko.

US Embassy in Nairobi and the US’ State Department knew there had been no meeting – the ‘Washington trip’ theory came from Kenya

More recently, confidential exchanges between the US Embassy in Nairobi and the State Department in Washington in the aftermath of Dr Ouko’s murder, have been released under the US Freedom of Information Act (FOI). They prove that the US embassy and State Department at the time, knew that no meeting between Bush and Ouko had taken place and that the theory was entirely driven by ‘Kenyan interlocutors’, in Nairobi.

One of the secret Telex’s, sent only two weeks after Dr Ouko’s murder, records that the US Embassy had ‘flatly refuted’ a rumour that Dr Ouko had met with President Bush Snr during the Washington visit as was being alleged, as no such meeting had taken place, but that their ‘Kenyan interlocutors’ had ‘made up their minds’ and were adamant that is “must be” the truth’.

The TJRC have got it right, the Daily Nation have got it wrong

On the question of the ‘Washington trip’ theory for Dr Ouko’s murder the TJRC was right, the Daily Nation’s report hopelessly wrong. There was no meeting between Bush and Ouko. (The TJRC were demonstrably wrong in some of their other assertions and conclusions about Dr Ouko’s murder but the Kenya Forum will return to that on another day).

Why were the other media outlets silent?

Former president Moi and Dr Ouko are greeted at JKIA, Feb 4 1990. Nation Media Archives

Other important questions arise however.

Who were the ‘Kenyan interlocutors’ who were so keen to spin a story to the US embassy in 1990? Was one or more of them the murder or murderers of Dr Ouko trying to direct the blame elsewhere?

The US embassy and the State Department have known for 24 year that there was no meeting between Bush and Ouko. Editors, journalists and cameramen from Kenya have also known for all these years that Dr Ouko did land at Jomo Kenyatta Airport with the rest of the Moi delegation on February 4th, 1990 (Barrack Mbajah’s later testimony was that he did not). Politicians and others on that trip, or waiting at JKIA also knew. Why did they not say anything?

Why were the photographs available in the nation’s media houses of Dr Ouko arriving at JKIA on Feb. 4, 1990, never published?

Gor Sungu’s Parliamentary Committee’s investigation into the murder of Dr Ouko in 2003-05 is reputed to have cost Sh8 million per day. Much of its deliberation was centred on the Washington trip. Again, why did not one of the above say anything to halt that all but pointless line of inquiry?

Gor Sungu and his committee also had all of this information available except the FOI releases. Why did he and they studiously ignore it?

(There have been since many questions about the way the Gor Sungu Commission handled its probe into the Robert Ouko murder affair. You can access our extensive reporting on the Commission’s reports here:

MP Gor Sungu forced to apologise over false claims, fined Sh3 million

KHRC report: Gor Sungu paper’s inclusion undermines report

Ouko Murder: Samuel Moroto MP wanted Gor Sungu to face questions‘)

And why now will Kenya’s media not report the findings of the TJRC on this matter?


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