NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 3 – Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi has acquired a Sh36m bulletproof state of the art vehicle as he prepares himself for a bruising battle in campaigns to succeed President Mwai Kibaki whose term expires after next general elections.
Insiders say apart from the state-of-the-art vehicle, the government recently assigned the one-time Vice President security officers from an elite squad that guards VIPs at the highest level, including protecting visiting foreign Heads of State.
Mudavadi’s white Toyota Land Cruiser is one of the sturdiest and most reliable armoured cars for security professionals worldwide.
On Friday, it was evident that Mudavadi was stepping closer to power when he sat next to President Mwai Kibaki during the 49th Madaraka Day celebrations at the Nyayo National Stadium and got the rare honour of introducing the Head of State to address the nation.
Even though Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta who is more close to the President was present, it was Mudavadi who got the distinct credit of welcoming the Head of State to address the nation.
Both Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka were abroad at the time.
In April, Mudavadi quit the Orange Democratic Movement where he had subsisted under the shadow of PM Odinga in a surprise move. He ditched the party after months of grumbling about the manner in which ODM was conducting its presidential primaries.
And now, Mudavadi is gearing up for the presidency without taking any chances. His new set of wheels is a 6 litre Toyota V-12 engine that gives absolute command on the road.
It is equipped with a full time 4 wheel drive, DVD navigation system, and rear-view camera.
Among the defence features in Mudavadi’s new car is a perimeter armouring of the passenger compartment to provide protection against a 7.62mm calibre bullet normally used in rifles.
It’s understood that the car can emit electric shocks if intruders approach the car.
The belly of the vehicle is armoured to withstand the blast and shrapnel from detonation of land mines, grenades and other Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).
The car is fitted with an internal siren system and emergency lights that can baffle an incoming driver in the event of a head-on collision.
It comes complete with a heavy duty suspension, adjustable shock absorbers and special alloy 18-inch wheels.
In Kenya, politicians enjoy State security provided by policemen or officers from the paralimitary General Service Unit.
The security is however not comparable to the magnitude enjoyed by Presidential candidates in the United States for example, which runs into millions of dollars a year.
In May 2007, Barack Obama was placed under Secret Service protection, the earliest in an election cycle that the Secret Service placed a Presidential candidate under its protection.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, the candidate’s campaign requested the security detail.
In Kenya’s case, it’s not clear if it was Mudavadi who asked for protection from the elite squad.
The Secret Service has protected major party candidates ever since New York Senator Robert Kennedy was gunned down in June 1968.
In the US, candidates qualify for Secret Service protection after a committee approves an individual as a major candidate.
The five-member committee includes the speaker of the House, the House minority leader, the Senate majority and minority leaders and one additional legislator selected by those committee members. It is chaired by the Department of Homeland Security.
The criteria normally include an announcement of candidacy, prominence, major party affiliation, fundraising and matching funds.