Ruto slams Raila for threatening to return to streets if dialogue flops

President William Ruto

President William Ruto speaks during an interdenominational prayer service in Bungoma County yesterday. Photo | PCS

Photo credit: PCS

President William Ruto has criticised Azimio la Umoja One Kenya leader Raila Odinga for threatening to resume street protests if ongoing bipartisan talks fail.

President Ruto led the Kenya Kwanza brigade in condemning Mr Odinga over the threat and vowed to do everything possible to ensure the country does not return to street protests. He said his leadership was aimed at promoting unity among Kenyans and therefore anyone who incites the public against that unity is an enemy of the people.

“What I will not allow to happen again in Kenya is street protests. They have been used to promote violence, destruction of property and sabotage of economic stability. This is unacceptable and even illegal, unconstitutional, undemocratic and against the rule of law,” said Dr Ruto.

Speaking during an interdenominational prayer service at Kanduyi grounds in Bungoma County on the second day of his five-day tour of the Western region, the President said his government was focused on reviving the economy, improving food security and creating additional jobs for the youth through the establishment of industrial processing zones and county agglomeration parks.

Mr Odinga, who was in Kajiado on Saturday, said the opposition would return to street protests if the talks collapse and castigated Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua for pouring cold water on the success of the talks.

“Let Kenyans know that although we have agreed to dialogue, we will mobilise our supporters back to the streets if the talks led by Kalonzo Musyoka and Kimani Ichung’wah fail,” said Mr Odinga.

Mr Ichung’wah accused Mr Odinga of taking the country backwards with protests every time there is hope of reviving the economy. He said Mr Odinga’s comments in Kajiado were likely to derail the smooth progress of the talks.

“We will sit down with Mr Kalonzo Musyoka and agree that we will only dialogue as long as there are no threats for a predetermined outcome. We are not engaging in dialogue out of weakness, but because we want to improve the stability of our government and promote peaceful coexistence among Kenyans after the elections,” he said.

Cotu Secretary-General Francis Atwoli advised Dr Ruto to create an office for Mr Odinga and his team with delegated responsibilities so that inclusiveness can be embedded in his leadership.

“Those who are calling for demonstrations are doing so because they don’t have offices and are idle,” Mr Atwoli said. “People like Eugene Wamalwa, Wycliffe Oparanya, Martha Karua, Kalonzo Musyoka and Raila Odinga have no offices to occupy and that is why they are on the streets. Give them the office of the leader of the opposition and they will sit down and work and there will be no more street protests.”

Mr Gachagua, Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi, National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula and Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua castigated those who say the President has kept the country in a campaign mood by touring the counties.

“The President is not campaigning. He is going around the country responding to the many needs raised by Kenyans during the campaign,” said Mr Wetangula.

Mr Mudavadi urged all MPs to work closely with the President and asked those from Azimio to ignore calls from their leaders to boycott meetings called by President Ruto as they will end up missing out on development projects.

Mr Gachagua raised eyebrows when he said Western had gotten enough of its share in the Kenya Kwanza government.

“Western has been rewarded with enough positions and appointments. In future, I will ask the President to consider other regions,” he said.