Bomet Governor Hillary Barchok has been dealt a blow in the attempt to lock out his archrival former governor Isaac Ruto from using the Bomet Green Stadium for a final political rally.
A court in Bomet has given Mr Ruto, the Chama Cha Mashinani (CCM) party leader and former Council of Governors chairman the exclusive right to access and use the stadium for a major meeting on Saturday – the last day of campaigns ahead of the general election to be held on Tuesday next week.
Professor Barchok has as a result of losing a case he filed in court, announced that he had shifted his campaign rally to Silibwet playgrounds in Bomet Central constituency.
Effectively, an anticipated clash between supporters of the two politicians, who are front runners in the gubernatorial race that also has a businessman turned politician Mr Benard Mutai of the Amani National Congress (ANC), has been averted.
Professor Barchok and Mr Ruto clashed on Thursday with each claiming to have booked the venue, secured a police permit and informed the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) of the planned meetings.
After the police gave Mr Ruto the clearance to use the stadium owing to the rally booking schedule filed before the IEBC and pre-payment for use of the stadium from the county government, Professor Barchok also claimed he had the same documentation from the police – but did not table it.
He went ahead and secured temporary court orders stopping the police from allowing the meeting to proceed as scheduled until the case is heard and determined.
Bomet Resident Magistrate M Wamae on Friday lifted interim orders he issued on Thursday suspending the execution of a permit issued by the Officer Commanding Bomet Police Station (OCS) Chief Inspector Benjamin Kisela which allowed CCM to hold the political rally on Saturday.
“The plaint filed on August, 4, 2022 and the prayers/ orders sought are noted..That the plaintiff /respondent order (a) in the plaint.. for a declaration that the defendant be declared null and void is beyond my jurisdiction,” stated Mr Wamae after hearing from the parties.
“The plaint was not supported by any verifying affidavits, the contract for the service was also not attached to support the cause of action that the plaintiff/applicant purports. The interim orders granted on Thursday are hereby vacated,” the magistrate directed.
Inspector General of Police Benjamin Kisela (OCS) Bomet were listed as defendants in the case they were represented by defence advocate Mr Desmond Leteipa while Mr Rodgers Mugumya appeared for Chama Cha Mashinani which along with IEBC, Attorney General and the County Government of Bomet were listed as interested parties.
The UDA party was represented by Hillary Sigei, the party’s nominee for Bomet Senate position while an advocate Brandy Kosgei appeared for the County Government of Bomet as Mr A Kibet represented Professor Barchok in the case where the magistrate did not issue orders on who would bear the costs.
Professor Barchok said after the court ruling that he will comply with the outcome and will shift his meeting to Silibwet playgrounds.
“The courts have ruled against us. We disagree with the court decision, but as law abiding citizens we shall comply” Professor Barchok wrote on his official social media accounts on Friday evening.
The CCM team welcomed the decision of the court and dispatched a team to the stadium for inspection on Friday evening where the officials and organizers of the rally said it was all systems go.
“After sensing defeat, Governor Barchok attempted to block Mr Ruto and the CCM supporters from holding a rally at the Bomet green stadium. But the courts have ruled in our favour based on the validity of documents tabled before it,” said Mr Albert Kochei, the CCM party Secretary General.
Mr Kochei who was flanked by among others the CCM chief agent in the gubernatorial race Mr Justus Maina – a former County Executive Committee (CEC) member for Administration called on party members to turn up in large numbers and maintain peace.
“We will hold a major rally at the stadium and a prayer session. Our supporters will maintain peace. We are aware of the guerilla tactics applied by Governor Barchok in a bid to paint Mr Ruto in bad light ahead of the Tuesday poll,” Mr Kochei said.
“We have weathered many storms, and by the will of the people and the Grace of God, Mr Ruto will resoundingly be elected by the majority of voters in Bomet county who want to restore order, their dignity and ensure taxpayers money utilized to their benefit,” Mr Koech said.
Earlier, Professor Barchok who was accompanied by Deputy Governor Shadrack Rotich, the UDA Bomet Senate candidate Hillary Sigei, parliamentary nominees – Mr Richard Kilel (Bomet Central) and Mr Richard Yegon (Bomet East), claimed that CCM had only booked the stadium for manifesto launch on July, 18, 2022 for a manifesto launch, which was called off after Mr Ruto was bereaved.
But Mr Ruto’s team shot back, claiming Governor Barchok’s move was an afterthought, that it was meant to disrupt the CCM meeting and specifically deny them the use of the stadium owned and managed by the county government.
“CCM applied a month ago to use the stadium, we paid Sh 50,000 to the county government and was 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 Kochei said earlier.
It remains to be seen which of the two teams will pull the largest crowd on the last day, as this is a game of numbers.