The President, at a rally in Kisii yesterday, said he will deal with Mr Odinga “decisively” should he not reconsider his calls for mass action.
“I am asking you, Kisii residents: did he compete with you or me? He competed with me and if he has any problem, let him ask me. He is now creating trouble for hustlers, making them not do their business.,” he said.
“What is his issue with our traders? Let him come face me directly. I am the one who defeated him, not our traders. I defeated you very early, but you now don’t want to face me. You are only bothering ordinary citizens.”
The stance taken by the President now sets the stage for a showdown, with the veteran politician, with observers fearing the grandstanding could lead to more loss of lives and destruction of property.
The President, in his warning to Mr Odinga, asked the police to protect life and property, noting that those who are planning to steal, and unleash terror and violence on the people will be held accountable.
“It doesn’t matter who the hell you are! You must live by the rule of law and nobody has the licence to terrorise the people of Kenya with violence, chaos, anarchy or destroy their property, business and wares...... and go scot-free,” he warned.
“We must be a country of the rule of law and everybody must be held to account. Let everybody follow the law, it doesn’t matter their shape, height or place in society.”
He said the police must protect the interests of every Kenyan. “The police force is an independent institution. Anybody planning and scheming for citizens to lose lives, property, business, their wares......why do you want to terrorise the people of Kenya with violence?”
But in a show of total defiance, Mr Odinga, speaking just about 30 kilometres from where the President was in Gusiiland, called on Kenyans to come out in large numbers to exercise their democratic right to picket as enshrined in the Constitution.
Mr Odinga on Tuesday announced that his coalition would hold mass protests biweekly—every Monday and Thursday.
Dr Ruto was at Getacho Primary School grounds in Nyaribari Masaba, where a thanksgiving ceremony to mark Ezekiel Machogu’s appointment as Education Cabinet Secretary was taking place.
Earlier on during the ceremony, police officers swung into action to contain a surging crowd that stormed the venue as they chanted “bado mapambano” (the struggle continues). The chants were taken to mean supporters of Mr Odinga had infiltrated the venue.
On the other side of the Nyaribari hills was Mr Odinga, who was attending the burial of Truphena Moraa Ontegi in Nyanturubo village, Nyaribari Chache. Moraa was the mother of former councillor and Nyaribari Chache ODM chairman Jackson Ontegi. As Mr Odinga made his way to the burial, youths chanted “Ruto must go” and “We want unga”.
“I am not a mad man to say my votes were stolen. We must know the truth and there is a need for justice to prevail. That is why I am calling out all Kenyans to come out in large numbers next week to protest against this illegitimate regime,” Mr Odinga said.
“It is all clear that we were not defeated as divisions rocked the IEBC in the middle. To make it clearer, the whistleblower laid it bare and that is the reason we want the electoral servers to be opened. We will only recognise him as President if indeed the servers tell us that he won the August election.”
The former Prime Minister noted that the cost of living is high and most Kenyans are suffering. “It must be brought down as soon as possible for us to sit well with them. He is so biased in terms of government appointments. Those who have got the lion’s share are from his community. Gusii missed out on the positions of Principal Secretary and he wants you to believe that he cares and loves your community, no.”
But Dr Ruto rubbished Mr Odinga’s sentiments on the high cost of living, saying he was in the ‘handshake’ government “that brought the Building Bridges Initiative, reggae and all other things until the price of maize flour rose to Sh 230”.
“They had their time for five years. For five years, there was a handshake government and Mr Odinga was in it. What are they telling us now, yet they had their time? I want to respectfully ask our friends that we finished the elections,” said the President, who also promised dozens of development projects to Kisii and Nyamira counties.
“You are old and we would really love to respect you, but stop the chaos, demonstrations, violence, fighting people. Please, we want to respect everybody, but you must stop the demonstrations. What you are doing is unacceptable in society.”
The Head of State wondered what Mr Odinga’s issues have to do with mama mboga, touts, hawkers, traders and boda bodas.
“I want to tell my friend, Mr Raila Odinga: respect me. My friend, stop the arrogance, and contempt for ordinary people. You have gone with violence, chaos and anarchy to visit ordinary citizens who are going about their business. If you have issues, deal with me, forget about ordinary citizens.”
He said he was ready to face Mr Odinga, but through the ballot in the 2027 General Election.
“Politics is over, don’t even waste my time. If you have issues, plan for yourself. We will face each other in 2027. And in 2027, I will have prepared myself more. I don’t even know if you will manage to get agents then.....Stop bothering people. You have been bothering previous regimes from Moi’s, and Kibaki’s to Uhuru’s government. Now you are with the traders,” said Dr Ruto.
He called for a peaceful nation, noting that he does not do things that are against the Constitution or the law. Dr Ruto and Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua were joined by Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi and several lawmakers from Gusii and other parts of the country.
Governors Simba Arati (Kisii) and Amos Nyaribo (Nyamira) hosted the President and his entourage.
The two governors, who were elected under Mr Odinga’s Azimio coalition, did not join their leader who was only a few kilometres away.
Mr Gachagua pleaded with Gusii residents to abandon Mr Odinga, whom he claimed had not helped the community in any way.
He noted that the President wanted the community to assist him in delivering on his promises to Kenyans.
The DP pledged not to misuse or oppress Gusii leaders but work with them towards building the nation.