Opposition leader Raila blames chaos on early 2022 campaigns
Anthony Mwangi and Wangari Njuguna
Opposition leader Raila Odinga yesterday took a dig at Deputy President William Ruto following last Sunday’s chaos in Murang’a County, blaming it on early campaigns.
Raila spoke as a group of MPs allied to Dr Ruto claimed the skirmishes which left two people dead were State-sponsored.
In a press a statement, Raila said the spectre of violence and vandalism in the name of a presidential election that is more than two years away, should be a serious cause for concern by all Kenyans.
“I, therefore, wish to repeat an appeal we have been making for the last two years. Let us stop the early election campaigns.
Let us renounce the politics of violence and militarisation of our youth as a means of achieving power,” the Orange Democratic Movement leader said.
The two people who died after chaos erupted at Kenol town in Murang’a were caught up in a fight between rival groups allied to the Jubilee Party. The clash was sparked by Ruto’s visit to the area.
Yesterday, Raila said he was deeply disturbed by the violence where young people, who were ferried in buses from other parts of Central Kenya region, engaged in running battles with locals, leading to loss of the two lives and several injuries.
He warned that if politicians continued with campaigns, the situation could easily spiral out of control and stagnate the country.
“If the situation is not contained now, the government will not deliver much in the remaining two years.
Out of fear and anxiety, our citizens will shift their priorities from rebuilding the country to an election that is way far,” said Raila.
Speaking separately in Parliament, a group MPs accused the police of undermining the DP.
“We also sadly observe the now obvious fact that the Ministry of Interior is executing an overt campaign to sabotage the DP.
To this end, the ministry appears determined to make Kenyans insecure in order to have its way,” the MPs said in a statement.
They said the Murang’a chaos was part of a consistent scheme to violently balkanise the country.
“We witnessed same pattern of coordinated mayhem in Kisii, Kajiado and Kakamega whereby government machinery is abused to turn areas into tribal no-go zones,” said Rigathi Gachagua (Mathira), who read the statement on behalf of his colleagues.
Raila asked the government to move with speed, and arrest those involved in planning the Sunday violence, so as to deter others who may have similar intentions.
“The government should fairly but firmly deal with the people behind the violence so as to pass an unmistakable message that Kenyans don’t deserve this and it must stop,” said the opposition leader.
His statement came as political leaders from Murang’a County distanced themselves from the Sunday fracas.
Led by Governor Mwangi wa Iria, the politicians said two local Members of Parliament Alice Wahome and Ndindi Nyoro, who had invited Ruto, should carry their own cross over what happened.
The governor, who was flanked by among others Woman Representative Sabina Chege, MPs Mary Waithera Wamaua (Maragua), Ngugi Nduati (Gatanga), Peter Kimari (Mathioya), Muturi Kigano (Kangema) and Senator Irungu Kang’ata, said local leaders did not play any role in the skirmishes.
He said Nyoro and Wahome should be held responsible for the lives lost and property damaged during the fracas.
The governor told a press conference that Nyoro and Wahome were “political brokers who have been lying to the DP that he had massive support in the area.”
He termed the incident as shameful, saying the two want to paint the image of Murang’a as a hotspot for violence.
“We are not going to allow this county to be turned into a political battle field by a few leaders who are pushing their own interests,” he said.
The governor said he shall be attending every political meeting in the area in the company of other leaders.
“I will avail myself to be attending all meetings in this county and make sure I become the MC,” said Wa Iria.
“We are not setting up for a fight but our work will be to cool down the political temperatures when they run high,” he said.
Wamaua said she had not been involved in the planning of the event despite the fact that the DP was visiting her area.
She accused her colleagues Wahome and Nyoro of complicity in the chaos, adding the two were trying to seek sympathy from the public but it had worked against them.
“We now have the details of what transpired and even how the youth were mobilised and ferried to the location,” said Wamaua.
“We are not going to sit back and watch two people stir up the peace of the residents, this trend has to stop.”
Woman Rep Chege, who was implicated in hiring of the goons, downplayed the claims, saying she could not have been involved in an event to which she had not been invited.
She, however, said her name was mentioned deliberately in order to tarnish her image, adding she is ready to face off with those dragging her name in the mud.
“It was very shameful for leaders to take their battle to church and this in an insult not only to the church but the people of Murang’a at large,” she said.
Senator Kang’ata accused Wahome and Nyoro of trying to taint the image of the President in the region as they seek to campaign for Ruto.
He also said they are going to mobilise support for the families who lost their kin in the chaos.
“We shall also file a case in court against the two MPs for them to be held accountable for their action,” he said.
Mathioya MP Kimari said he was aware of a planned visit by the DP to his area on October 16, adding they shall attend the meeting to ensure peace prevailed.
“This is not the first incident to be reported in Murang’a but in all cases, our colleagues are involved,” he said.