President William Ruto has dared Azimio La Umoja One Kenya coalition leader Raila Odinga to mobilise his supporters to nationwide protests, warning that the government will not allow him to blackmail Kenyans.
Mr Odinga’s planned demonstrations, Dr Ruto insisted, will not deter his administration’s agenda of transforming the country’s economy.
Speaking while attending an interdenominational thanksgiving service at the University of Embu yesterday, the President castigated Mr Odinga for trying to sabotage his government and derail development.
“They have realised that we have an agenda for our people and that is why they are bringing protests to halt our programmes. But I want to tell them that this year and this time round ‘mtajua hamjui’ (you will face the music). I had told them in advance even during the electioneering period. You will not blackmail this nation and threaten the people of Kenya. We want to move this country forward and you will not drag us back,” Dr Ruto said.
He said that he had instructed Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki to liaise with Mr Odinga’s team to get their nationwide demonstrations scheduled and be accorded adequate security.
“I have instructed CS Kindiki to ask for the protests scheduled from them so that they are accorded adequate security so that they do not destroy the property of Kenyans. They should come clear on whether they want to protest daily, weekly, monthly and for how many years,” Dr Ruto said.
Mr Odinga had called off planned rallies against the government that were to be held on Wednesday last week in Nairobi in support of the four besieged electoral agency commissioners.
National Assembly Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi said the rallies were postponed to December 7 this year to allow the smooth running of the national examinations.
The ODM leader also accuses Dr Ruto of “mutilating” the Constitution for his own selfish gains.
“They want to drag Kenyans to poverty so that they continue oppressing them. I am telling Kenyans to unite and rescue themselves from these neocolonialists. I want to assure the people of Kenya that the programmes I have lined up to change the economy of Kenya must continue whether there are demonstrations or not,” the President said.
He went on: “They can plan whatever they are planning but Kenya will no longer be the same. We know that they do not want the economy of Kenya to thrive but we won’t allow that.”
Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua said Mr Odinga was yearning to join the government by holding demonstrations to push for a handshake similar to the one he had with retired President Uhuru Kenyatta.
“This old man has not yet changed and he will never change. He is now claiming that his victory was stolen yet he had support from the government and deep state,” he said.
He is used to blackmailing the previous regimes to sneak into government through the backdoor,” Mr Gachagua said.
“He now wants to blackmail President Ruto so that he gets accommodated in government. As people of Mt Kenya, we are telling you (Ruto) not to allow that mzee in our government. He should be allowed to protest day and night but there will be no handshake. But do you think that Dr Ruto can be blackmailed?” he added.
Mr Gachagua rubbished reports that Mt Kenya is divided on its support towards President Ruto’s government, terming them as the ‘creation of the media.
“The media has been creating stories that there is a rift in Mt Kenya but that is false. We chose to rally behind President Ruto because he is a man of honour and integrity. You gave us more than we expected and we are so much grateful. The government of President Ruto is leading well and this region is getting commensurate attention from his administration and we are happy,” Mr Gachagua said.
National Assembly Majority leader Kimani Ichung’wa hit out at Mr Odinga over his calls for mass action and challenged Mr Odinga to take his children to the frontline of mass action political rallies and protests.
“They nominated their children to the East Africa Legislative Assembly (EALA) and want those children to lead in the demonstrations they have organised,” said Mr Ichung’wa in reference to Mr Odinga.
He explained that Mr Odinga wants mass action in support of the four Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) commissioners who are facing removal through a tribunal.
Mr Ichung’wa said the four commissioners must face the tribunal whether Mr Odinga liked it or not. He accused Mr Odinga of misleading the commissioners to believe that he had the power to protect them.
“The commissioners had been misled by those who misled them earlier that they had power, systems and the deep state to fix elections and make you overturn the will of the Kenyan people,” the Kikuyu MP said.
Mr Ichung’wa said what the commissioners did what treasonable.
“The commissioners wanted to burn our country and that is why we went to Parliament and be investigated by a tribunal so that they can be sent packing,” said Mr Ichung’wa.
Mr Ichung’wa said one of the commissioners has resigned after realising that all was not well and told the three remaining ones to follow suit.
The Majority Leader stressed that Kenyans were busy applying for Hustlers fund and they were not interested in violent demonstrations.
“Kenyans are focused, they know what they want out of their government, they don’t want to be derailed in political rallies and demonstrations in things they don’t concern them,” said Mr Ichung’wa.
Tharaka-Nithi Governor Muthomi Njuki claimed Mr Odinga was pushing President Ruto so that can be part of the Kenya Kwanza Alliance government.
“This is not the first time for Odinga to call for demonstrations. He did so during the reigns of the former presidents, Mwai Kibaki and Uhuru Kenyatta and he succeeded. Odinga is not interested to defend the four IEBC commissioners but to get power through the back door, he wants to blackmail Dr Ruto so that he can share the government,” said Mr Njuki.
He asked Dr Ruto to be firm and refuse to be drawn into a handshake with Odinga.
“Mr Odinga should not get even an inch of the government,” said Mr Njuki.
Embu Governor Cecily Mbarire said Mt Kenya was solidly behind President Ruto.
She called on the Head of State to ensure that Embu gets adequate dams to mitigate water problems in the area.
Ms Mbarire explained that the residents especially those from the arid Mbeere area have been suffering due to acute water shortage.
“The residents need water for drinking and Irrigation so that they don’t continue suffering,” she said.
Ms Mbarire said the August 9 elections were tough but through the good guidance and leadership of Dr Ruto, United Democratic Alliance (UDA) won almost all the seats in Mount Kenya.
Embattled Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza thanked President Ruto for giving her region two powerful cabinet positions.
“Dr Ruto did good for us and we shall continue supporting his government,” Ms Mwangaza said.
At the same time, Ms Mwangaza reached out to President Ruto to arbitrate between her and ward representatives, waging war against her.
She said that she is banking on Dr Ruto’s intervention to resolve the prolonged dispute.
President Ruto reiterated that his government will complete all ongoing road projects countrywide.
He promised to curb unnecessary borrowings and focus on expanding the country’s revenue base.
“When we formed this government, we found many debts that had been accrued by our predecessors. We reduced Sh300 million in debts to improve our economy. We decided to improve our revenue base by reducing borrowings. We have made a cautious decision of eradicating shortcuts in increasing our national revenue,” Dr Ruto said.