Blame game as Ruto Kisumu tour rocked by chaos
The second day of Deputy President William Ruto’s tour of Kisumu County was rocked by violence yesterday after rowdy youths pelted his motorcade with stones.
The youth, chanting slogans in support of ODM leader Raila Odinga, barricaded the Kisumu-Kakamega highway as Ruto’s motorcade approached the Kondele stage from the Ciala Resort where the Deputy President had spent the night.
As his motorcade approached Kondele, a huge crowd of youths who had all along been singing and dancing on the road, turned rowdy.
For about 15 minutes, the youths chanting “Raila Juu! Raila Juu” and brandishing placards praising Raila’s Sh6,000 social safety net, blocked the road and pelted the DP’s motorcade with missiles.
“Onge bura mora mora mabiro timre Kondele ka onge Baba,” (There is no rally which will take place at Kondele without Baba) the youths chanted.
Police lobbed tear gas canisters to disperse the youth and to clear the road to allow the DP’s convoy to proceed to Kondele.
Addressing a roadside crowd on his way to the Kisumu International Airport, Ruto directly linked the chaos to Raila, whom he accused of using jobless youth to wage violence on his opponents.
“I am asking my friend, the leader of ODM, please, let us not use our children to throw stones and cause violence. These young people deserve jobs,” he said.
But in a statement issued after the chaos, Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai appeared to blame the Deputy President for the incident, accusing him of failing to heed police advice to call off the Kondele event following intelligence reports that there could be violence.
“Based on intelligence gathered, there was tension within Kondele owing to alleged distribution of campaign logistical funds amongst local groups. This intelligence was promptly shared by police with H.E the Deputy President’s team with recommendation to skip the affected area during the tour.
“During the rally, violence erupted amongst the local agitated groups who engaged in stone-throwing and other unruly behaviour.
Police reacted promptly to contain the situation and provide security to H.E the Deputy President, his entourage, the public and property, tear gas was discharged. H.E the Deputy President safely left the scene. No injuries were reported or noted. Some vehicles were destroyed,” he said.
But Ruto’s office dismissed the police comments as “political mischief.”
“The statement by the National Police Service underscores the fact that they had intelligence on the criminal conspiracy to perpetrate lawlessness in broad daylight, and ample opportunity to stop it and facilitate a peaceful event, but consciously opted to engage in political mischief instead.
At no point was there deployment of campaign finances as alleged by the police,” Ruto’s spokesman David Mugonyi said in a statement.
Sources within the security agencies intimated to People Daily that the violence arose from differences which emerged after the DP’s entourage held a meeting with one local youth group at the Susan Owiyo Cultural centre in Riat, Kisumu West constituency on Tuesday evening during which some money was given out, leaving out a rival group.
It is suspected the members of the group that was left out planned the chaos.
Yesterday, the DP managed to address roadside rallies at various stops including Kisian, Kamas, and Juakali before boarding a chopper to Rongo, Migori county, where he opened a United Democratic Alliance (UDA) office.
He was accompanied by Migori Governor Zachary Obado, MPs Vincent Kemosi (West Mugirango), Marwa Kitayama (Kuria East), Mathias Robi (Kuria West), Oscar Sudi (Kapsaret) and several UDA officials led by former Raila aide Eliud Owalo.
Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi condemned the incident.
“We need to learn to be tolerant of each other. Violence breeds more violence which we don’t want. All leaders, the IEBC, security agencies and Kenyans should condemn such acts,” he said.
Speaking in Nairobi, MPs and senators allied to Ruto alleged a scheme by powerful figures in government to rig the 2022 presidential election in favour of Raila (See separate story).
Former Kisumu Town East MP Gor Sunguh also condemned the incident, saying it undermined democracy.
“All candidates should be allowed to sell their policies and programmes to wananchi without intimidation or threats of violence. We also expect to be treated the same way when we go to campaign in the opposing turf. Let peace prevail,” said Sunguh.
Addressing crowds at various stops in the lakeside city, Ruto downplayed his planned removal from the Jubilee Party during the planned National Delegates Conference.
“I have moved on. I respect and will humbly accept any decision made by the Jubilee coalition national organs. But sorry... it’s too late,” he said.
“Wacha wajisort... sisi pia tumejipanga sawa sawa na tutakutana mbele kwa debe. I wish them well,” he said.
The DP said he was forced to decamp to UDA after Jubilee’s development agenda was derailed by the Handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila.
“My focus now is to saturate the country with the good news of bottom up economic approach and how we will fix our economy,” he said.
He also called for the dissolution of small parties formed along ethnic lines, a jibe which appeared targeting One Kenya Alliance (OKA) principals Mudavadi, Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper), Gideon Moi (Kanu) and Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula.
Such parties, he argued, would undermine efforts to unite the country.
“If we have to engage on the national discourse to unite the country, then we must not allow parties formed on ethnic divisions to thrive,” he said.
Ruto heaped rare praise on Raila, saying he was the only political leader, besides himself, to build a party with a national outlook.
“It is only Raila and me who have built a national image in politics,” he said.
He claimed that some parties, whose leaders were running for president, lacked a national outlook and wondered why they were even formed.
“There are some parties that if they were to hold a parliamentary group meeting, they would speak in their mother tongue. I beseech them to merge all the village parties and join the national parties,” he said.
Ruto vowed to set aside Sh100 billion to create a financial ecosystem to empower the youth if elected president.
He said many Small and Medium Enterprises were suffering at the hands of shylocks who were charging high interest rates.
He vowed to come up with a legal regime to cushion traders from financial exploitation.