Two killed in chaotic Deputy President Ruto church visit
Anthony Mwangi and Wangari Njuguna
Two people died after chaos erupted at Kenol town in Murang’a county after two opposing groups allied to the Jubilee Party clashed over a visit by Deputy President William Ruto.
Drama started as early as 7am when a group of youths barricaded the road leading to the town using bonfires.
The DP was set to attend a church service at the AIPCA Kenol. The youths succumbed to injuries caused by the mobs that were fighting.
Yesterday’s violence raised anxiety over a repeat today, with another showdown expected after DP’s allies threatened to storm the party headquarters as promised last week.
Party Vice chairman David Murathe, however, warned the DP and his allies against such a move, insisting that the party offices will be a no-go zone for the entire week because the building will be being fumigated.
“We are fumigating the offices today and, therefore, no one is expected to be in.
Last week, more than 20 people converged there and knowing that they do not adhere to the protocols set, we cannot take chances,” Murathe said referring to last Thursday’s incident in which Ruto stormed the office and held a meeting with over 30 MPs.
During the fracas at Kenol yesterday, one of the victims is said to have been badly injured after confrontations emerged between Ruto’s supporters and a group which had attempted to block his entourage from accessing the venue.
Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai said he had instructed the Directorate of Internal Affairs Unit and two senior Directorate of Criminal Investigations officers to investigate the matter.
“We urge politicians to desist from engaging in inciteful utterances and acts. Stern action will be taken against any person planning and executing unlawful acts,” warned Mutyambai.
The National Cohesion and Integration Commission swiftly condemned the killing and warned about rising political temperatures and intolerance.
“We warn that the proliferation of criminal and organised groups must be arrested before it gets out of hand,” said the commission.
“We condemn the acts of intolerance, incitement, violence and murder. We not only call upon the security forces to arrest and persecute the perpetrators, but would like to remind politicians and Kenyans in general, that this country has deep reverence for the Constitution and the rule of law,” said commission chairman Samuel Kobia, at press conference in Mombasa.
There were claims that some leaders affiliated to Kieleweke had ferried ‘goons’ from neighbouring Kiambu and Nyeri counties with a mission to cause chaos and disrupt the meeting.
Addressing the congregation, Ruto termed the incident as unfortunate. He condemned the act of police officers hurling teargas canisters into a church saying it was shameful and disgraceful.
He termed it as unfortunate and apologised to the host church and the residents.
“As the DP I want to apologise on behalf of the Kenyan government and promise you this will never happen again,” he said.
He added: “Those who gave orders and the ones who executed them, should not forget that they are employees working under President Uhuru Kenyatta and myself and they should not forget how far we have come from,” he said.
“We are a God-fearing nation and the church is the last place for such drama” he added.
The DP said he is aware there are forces out to frustrate his 2022 presidential bid.
He, however, said he is unstoppable and he has to accomplish his mission to be able to transform the country.
“There are people who feel threatened because they have seen my agenda to transform the lives of the common person and they are trying their best to bring me down, but they will not succeed” he said.
For several hours, business and transport in the area came to a standstill as the youth engaged the police in running battles.
Irked the leaders
The battle did not however end in the streets as some officers moved to the church where the service was being held and ordered everyone to get out.
Police hurled teargas canisters to disperse the congregation which however stayed put.
Kandara MP Alice Wahome, who was the host, accused Murang’a leaders, among them Woman Rep Sabina Chege, of planning the chaos.
Wahome said after being tipped on what had been planned, she tried reaching out to the security agents but none of them responded to her calls.
“I reached out to the police boss, but he did not pick my calls and this only tells me they knew what had been planned,” she said.
The MP said Ruto’s visit seemed to have irked the leaders but she said being the DP, Ruto can go to any part of the country without any restrictions.
“How can we not host the DP just because some people do not want him here?” she asked. “We are going to take him to every corner of this region whether they like it or not,” she added.
Wahome said this is one of the indicators that the country is slowly going back to the dark days where freedom for political affiliation was curtailed.
But when contacted, Chege denied any involvement in the chaos claiming that it was a stage-managed act by the rival group to paint local leaders in bad picture.
“How can I be involved in such nonsense? I cannot in any way bring in women to fight.
Majority of those in the fracas were women brought from Kiambu by the same leaders accusing me,” claimed Chege.
Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua claimed that the plan to disrupt the meeting was hatched on Friday, as the regional commissioner had called the church leaders ordering them to cancel the meeting.
Rigathi pointed an accusing finger at a powerful Cabinet Secretary whom he claimed had given orders to have the meeting disrupted.
“He is messing up this country and if the President is not careful, he will have his legacy ruined,” he said.
He said the move indicates that the leaders feel threatened by Ruto’s visit as he has gained popularity in the region, which is against their wish.
“If you want to push Ruto out try other means because we are not going to bow to intimidation,” said Rigathi.
He insisted the region has a debt to pay for the support that Ruto gave to Uhuru and all the drama is just a side show.
“It was a deal, and we shall pursue it though not through fighting” he said.