Ruto, Raila Nyanza confrontation looms

William Ruto

Azimio leader Raila Odinga (left) and President William Ruto.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

A showdown looms today between President William Ruto and opposition leader Raila Odinga when the two tour the latter’s Nyanza backyard today (Saturday).

While President Ruto is scheduled to be at Oriwo Boys High School in Karachuonyo to attend Interior Principal Secretary Raymond Omollo’s thanksgiving service, Mr Odinga will meet his troops in Kisumu before addressing roadside rallies in Ahero, Katito, Kendu Bay, Adiedo then to Homa Bay, setting stage for a major showdown owing to the close proximity to the venue of the thanksgiving ceremony.

By the time of going to press, State House had not confirmed Dr Ruto’s attendance — with the President set to host six African presidents in Nairobi today for a discussion on military coups and democratic renewal. 

There was a possibility of Dr Ruto being represented in the Homa Bay event by Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi.

On Thursday, organisers of the PS Omollo thanksgiving said all was in place and condemned the events planned by the opposition. This was even as Kasipul MP Charles Ong’ondo Were said the planned meetings by the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition leader were to engage supporters on the outfit’s next course of action.

One of the stopovers of the Azimio team is a few Kilometres from Kanyipir, Dr Omollo’s home. After the event, President Ruto is expected to launch a number of development projects in Homa Bay, including the construction of the Mbita-Sindo-Magunga-Sori road and the Rusinga Ring Road. 

According to Mr Hesbon Omollo, the family spokesman and a board member at the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency, a last-minute call by Azimio leaders to organise a political rally at the Nyamasaria bus park in Kisumu is intended to paralyse the ceremony.

Mr Omollo also raised concerns that the organisers of the meeting intend to waylay the people who will use the Kisumu International Airport before taking the 70km journey to the venue. But National Assembly Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi rubbished the fears.

“The planned ODM delegates meeting and public rally in Kisumu East has nothing to do with some other so-called meeting organised by United Democratic Alliance in Homa Bay on the same day.

As ODM, we are too busy activating our grassroot networks to be bothered by oth-er events that don’t concern us,” said Mr Wandayi. Yesterday, some youths tried to disrupt a UDA meeting in Kabondo Kasipul when they blocked roads to the venue where recruitment was being conducted.

This comes even as Mr Omollo told journalists that they have invited local politicians allied to Azimio, including Homa Bay Governor Gladys Wanga.

However, Governor Wanga’s Chief of Staff, Mr Charles Odhiambo, denied reports that the county boss had received any invitation. “We have not received any invite to attend the event. It has not been dispatched to us, yet the governor has been around the whole week,” said Mr Odhiambo.

Gem MP Elisha Odhiambo, an ODM MP who now backs President Ruto, said the people were ready to welcome the president.

“I will be in Homa Bay tomorrow for Mr Omollo’s event. Here in Gem, the people are ready for the president and the mood is ecstatic,” said Mr Odhiambo.