May 19, 2024

Kenya’s political rivals President William Ruto and opposition leader Raila Odinga were pictured together having a meeting with President Yoweri Museveni in Uganda in late February. Shortly afterward, social media users shared an image purporting to show the frontpage of Kenya’s Star newspaper reporting an imminent cabinet reshuffle in favour of opposition figures. However, the claim is false: a search through the newspaper’s online archive revealed the alleged article was a hoax. The media company also denied publishing it. 

The frontpage, posted on X by former Nairobi governor Mike Sonko on February 29, 2024, features pictures of six of Odinga’s close allies alongside the headline “Raila Odinga allies tipped for cabinet”. 

<img class="caas-img caas-lazy has-preview" alt="Screenshot showing the false post, taken on March 7, 2024” data-src=””><img alt="Screenshot showing the false post, taken on March 7, 2024” src=”” class=”caas-img”>

Screenshot showing the false post, taken on March 7, 2024

The purported frontpage, which is dated February 29, 2024, has been shared more than 250 times and attracted over 180,000 likes. 

Notable figures featured in the picture include two of Odinga’s deputies in the Orange Democratic Party (ODM) — former governors Ali Joho and Wyclif Oparanya. 

“Joho Oparanya to join govt. in new Ruto-Raila deal (sic),” reads the subheading. 

The cover was also shared on Instagram and elsewhere on X. 

Museveni, Ruto and Odinga meeting 

On February 26, pictures of Ruto, Odinga and Museveni meeting at the latter’s country home in Uganda stirred debate in Kenya (archived here). 

The three East African leaders could be seen talking while holding walking sticks while long-horned Ankole cows grazed in the background. 

Odinga has been lobbying neighbouring countries like Uganda to support him in his bid to become the next chairman of the African Union Commission (AUC) and to succeed Moussa Faki Mahamat of Chad who is serving his second and final term in office after having been re-elected in 2021 (archived here). 

Ruto, Odinga rivalry 

In August 2022, Odinga marginally lost his fifth bid for the presidency to Ruto and claimed he was cheated of victory (archived here). 

Now bitter adversaries, the pair were once close allies.  

Ruto and Odinga were founding members of the ODM party between 2005 and 2007. They worked together during the 2005 referendum campaigns to defeat revisions suggested in a draft constitution by the administration of then-Kenyan president, the late Mwai Kibaki (archived here).  

Ruto backed Odinga’s candidacy for the presidency in fiercely contested polls that resulted in post-election violence in 2007 (archived here). 

Ruto, Museveni tiff 

Ruto and Museveni were also long-time political allies, but tensions have surfaced over oil imports, resulting in Uganda suing Kenya at the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) in January 2024. 

But following the three-way meeting in Uganda, Museveni issued a statement, saying the leaders had discussed matters of “mutual benefit” and the East African community in general (archived here). 

<img class="caas-img caas-lazy has-preview" alt="Screenshot showing Museveni’s statement, taken on March 10, 2024” data-src=””><img alt="Screenshot showing Museveni’s statement, taken on March 10, 2024” src=”” class=”caas-img”>

Screenshot showing Museveni’s statement, taken on March 10, 2024

Fabricated cover 

The frontpage shared on social media posts does not show an authentic cover of The Star newspaper. 

The original cover was fabricated by replacing the splash headline and main photo with an unrelated text and image. 

AFP Fact Check found the authentic February 29 frontpage in the paper’s archive website. It reads: “Wage crisis: Ruto team push for 55 more female MPs.”

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