Bethuel Kiplagat may have been foolish to have originally accepted the chairmanship of the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC), or it may have been foolish to have offered him the post in the first place, given that on at least two subjects the Commission would have to investigate, the ‘Wagalla Massacre’ in 1984 and the murder of Dr Robert Ouko on February 13 1990, he would have been called as a witness. Either way, with his recent interview on Citizen TV the former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, may have done Kenya a greater service by pointing at some potentially uncomfortable truths on both subjects.
Kiplaget was interviewed on Citizen’s One on One programme last Thursday. He was first asked about Wagalla and came armed with, so he said, documentation and minutes of meetings that proved he took no part in the planning of the massacre and had flown home the day before it occurred.
Later, Kiplagat was asked about the ‘Washington trip’, the ‘prayer breakfast’ visit by some 83 Kenyan officials, including President Moi, Dr Ouko, Nicholas Biwott, Dalmas Otieno, Hezekiah Oyugi and Kiplagat himself, to Washington between January 27 and February 4 1990, just a week or so before Ouko was murdered.
The theory propagated by some for the last 20 years (although not, it should be noted, by anyone who was on the Washington trip) is that Ouko met with President Bush in a private meeting; that Bush said Ouko should be Kenya’s next president and then either told Moi the same, or the message was passed on to him. The result, so the theory went, was that Biwott had a row with Ouko and Moi sacked his Foreign Minister and banished him to his farm at Koru, sending him home on a different flight.
Well, Kiplagat told Citizen TV that there was no meeting between Bush and Ouko; that the US authorities had stated that there was no meeting; that Ouko and Biwott were on good terms “communicating nicely… and happily”; that Ouko and Biwott shared a car together; that the trip went well; and that Kenya’s then ambassador to the US, Dennis Afande, saw them off on the same flight.
Bethuel Kiplagat seems to have ruffled a few feathers with his interview. Perhaps he has spoken out of turn, or perhaps he has spoken the truth. If it’s the latter, and he says he can prove it, then it is explosive stuff and should be front page news because it says we’ve been lied to for two decades.
Perhaps you missed this interview for it was only covered by two newspapers and they didn’t mention which TV channel it had been on (odd that, isn’t it) but now you can judge for yourself. The full interview can be found at ReelMedia. It begins with the ‘Wagalla Massacre’ discussion and the part relating to Ouko starts at 28 minutes 38 seconds. (or you can watch the relevant clip HERE)