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Demolition of Weston Hotel was social media propaganda

Lucy Mwangi and Jacob Nyongesa

  1. A poster making rounds on social media claiming that Narc Kenya party leader Martha Karua will be Deputy President William Ruto’s presidential running mate in 2022 is misleading. The Narc Kenya leader, who addressed the press after a meeting in Naivasha where she was unanimously elected interim spokesperson of the Mt Kenya Unity Forum, said nothing of the sort. Ruto has expressed interest in succeeding President Uhuru Kenyatta in the upcoming 2022 presidential election through the UDA party, but he is yet to name a running mate. Karua, on the other hand, has not declared her intention to run for president. A look at the two politicians social media accounts reveals that none shared the poster circulated.

2. An image shared on Twitter purporting to be the front page of Taifa Leo newspaper for October 6, 2021, is doctored. The headline of the fake edition reads: “Mahustlers wakwama na Ruto”, with the subhead, “Wananchi wa kawaida waunga safari Naibu wa Rais William Ruto kuingia ikulu 2022”. The image accompanying the headline is that of the DP. However, there are discrepancies on the doctored front cover. The font used to write the headline on the fake front page is different from Taifa Leo’s regular fonts.  Scrutiny of the front page revealed that the lead story and photo were changed, but the other stories highlighted are identical to those on the genuine publication’s cover.

3. Claims on social media by Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi, and a subsequent tweet by CapitalFMKenya condemning the alleged demolition of the Weston Hotel, are misleading. The controversial lawmaker posted photos of bulldozers on his Twitter account, claiming that they were spotted near DP Ruto’s Weston Hotel in Lang’ata, Nairobi county, and that the government intended to demolish it. The message quickly went viral, and it was also shared on the Media Watch WhatsApp group. The Observer contacted the Weston Hotel on October 7, and they confirmed that the claims were false and the management  was not aware of any demolition plans.

4. The claims made by controversial bloggers Donald Kipkorir and Wahome Thuku that former Senate Majority Leader and Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen had left the United Democratic Alliance are false. According to social media posts made on October 7, Murkomen stated that Deputy President William Ruto’s team is abandoning him and he was planning to decamp to Raila. The lawmaker stated in a tweet on Thursday, October 7, that he was on an official visit to America and that such stories were the work of propagandists, bloggers and busybodies. He dismissed the reports and urged his supporters to ignore the claims.

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