Bomet Governor Hillary Barchok and former governor Isaac Ruto have clashed over the venue of their last political rallies ahead of Tuesday’s elections.
Mr Ruto has accused Prof Barchok of seeking to deny him the use of Bomet Green stadium though he had booked and paid for it and secured a police permit.
Prof Barchok, on the other hand, claims to have booked the same arena and secured a police permit for his last rally on Saturday.
Governor Barchok, the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party flag-bearer and Mr Ruto, the Chama Cha Mashinani (CCM) leader, are the leading contenders in the race for governor. The other is Mr Benard Mutai of Amani National Congress (ANC).
Prof Barchok and Mr Ruto are backing Deputy President William Ruto, the Kenya Kwanza presidential candidate.
“CCM applied a month ago to use the stadium. We paid Sh50,000 to the county government and were issued with a receipt by the revenue department. We notified the police and secured a permit for the rally slated for Saturday, as required in law,” Mr Albert Kochei, CCM secretary-general, told journalists.
Mr Kochei, who displayed the receipts and the police permit, said CCM had in its schedule for rallies notified the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) of the function, which was merged with that of UDA and agreed to by both parties.
“As per the schedule, Governor Barchok was to hold his last rally on Saturday, but after realising that Mr Ruto had pre-booked the stadium and met all the legal requirements, he panicked and sought to disrupt the function,” Mr Kochei said.
He said at a press conference held at the CCM offices in Bomet town and attended by former Administration executive Justus Maina, former mayor Kipkemoi Barsumei and others that Mr Ruto’s rally would proceed as planned and called on the former governor’s supporters to turn up in large numbers.
“Governor Barchok’s antics are a clear manifestation of panic by a man staring at defeat in a General Election. He has a few days to pack his stuff and go home as the voters are decided that there will be a change of guard in the county leadership,” Mr Kochei claimed.
“Reference is made to an application for a gathering permit dated August 3, 2022. Request is hereby given on three strengths,” Chief Inspector Benjamin Kisela stated in a letter to CCM
“You presented your schedule to IEBC which points out that you will be using the Green stadium on August 6, 2022. You have booked and paid for the stadium to the Chief Officer Urban Planning. You have duly notified the OCS (Officer Commanding Station) of your intention to hold the rally (on Saturday) within the stipulated time.”
The August 3 letter continued: “You are therefore advised to hold your meeting within the confines of the law. This office will provide security during your meeting.”
Prof Barchok, on the other hand, insisted that he had secured the venue, notified the IEBC of the planned rally and obtained a police permit, but did not provide any documentary proof.
He claimed that CCM had only booked the stadium for the launch of its manifesto on July 18, an event that was called off after Mr Ruto’s mother died.
“UDA will proceed with its final prayer rally at Bomet Green stadium as per the permit issued on July 28 and indicated in the campaign schedule issued to IEBC during clearance. The police must adequately provide security,” Prof Barchok said.
Prof Barchok, who was flanked by Deputy Governor Shadrack Rotich, UDA Bomet Senate candidate Hillary Sigei, parliamentary aspirants Richard Kilel (Bomet Central) and Richard Yegon (Bomet East), called on their supporters to turn up for the rally.
County Police Commander Esther Seroney declined to comment on the standoff as Nation.Africa sought to know which between UDA and CCM had a valid permit and exclusive use of the stadium.
“I will give a comment later on this matter as I am still waiting for a brief from the sub-county commanders,” Ms Seroney told journalists in her office.
The police are expected to make the final decision on who will have the right to use the stadium.