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The face-off between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto was yesterday characterised by demonstrations and grandstanding.
Mr Ruto encountered opposition as he took his presidential campaigns to the President’s Ichaweri village, Kiambu County, as Mr Kenyatta stomped for Azimio leader Raila Odinga in Nairobi. Four of Mr Ruto’s lawmakers from Western and Turkana also joined President Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party in a blow to the DP.
In Kiambu, Mr Ruto made the first stopover at Mutomo shopping centre where he addressed locals and urged them to elect him, saying he helped Mr Kenyatta win and retain his seat, and it was time he returned the favour.
It was the first time Dr Ruto was visiting Gatundu South after he fell out with his boss allegedly because of Mr Kenyatta’s peace deal with ODM leader Raila Odinga.
Mr Ruto invoked the name of the President’s mother, Mama Ngina. He also said the clergy had prayed for him and the President when they faced cases at the International Criminal Court at The Hague, Netherlands.
“Bearing that in mind, even if he does not want to help me become president, tell him to stay out of the race so that I can defeat Raila Odinga,” added Mr Ruto.
Varsity land saga
The DP also weighed in on an ongoing row in which over 1,000 petitioners have moved to court seeking to stop their compulsory relocation to pave the way for the expansion of Mama Ngina University that is domiciled in Gatundu South. He rallied landowners to stay put and promised them that they will not be forcibly relocated and that if the latter has to happen, the law should be followed.
“No one will be relocated or have his ancestral land grabbed, provided you have the title deeds. This country is led by the Constitution, so do not panic; no one will relocate you," he said in Mutomo.
At the same time, Dr Ruto told Ichaweri,the ancestral home of the founding president Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, that Kenya is not ready to be governed by few Kenyans who sit in hotels.
Kikuyu legislator Kimani Ichung’wah, who was among the politicians accompanying Dr Ruto, said Mama Ngina University should look for an alternative land instead of disintegrating families in the name of expansion.
‘We will not allow anyone to be relocated from their ancestral land. A university should bring development in the area but not disintegrate or relocate families,’’ Mr Ichung’wah said.
From Mutomo, they proceeded to the Kiamwangi area, still in Gatundu South, where his security and his handlers repulsed a group of youth shouting Jubilee Party and Azimio slogans.
The same scenario would repeat itself in Gatundu where residents had blocked part of the road before Mr Ruto arrived. They were carrying placards bearing Jubilee Party slogans.
“Respect our president. He also helped you to be deputy president,” one of the protesters said as the stand-off continued.
It took the intervention of UDA handlers in the area and the police to clear them before the DP arrived. Ruto avoided attacking Mr Kenyatta and adopted a conciliatory tone and even urged Gatundu South residents inform President Kenyatta not finish him politically and instead support him return the favour and support him.
But in Nairobi, President Kenyatta said no amount of intimidation will stop him from supporting Mr Odinga. He reached out to boda boda operators, promising to hold a meeting with them soon. Speaking in Mathare North after opening the Mama Margaret Kenyatta Children Hospital in Kariobangi, he said Azimio will create unity and stability.
The 350-bed capacity hospital will target the informal settlements of Kariobangi and Mathare. It will be managed by the Kenyatta National Hospital.
“Even if they abuse me and intimidate me, I can stand confidently and say that the unity of this country is important. That is why I support the Azimio and I urge all of you to vote for Raila Odinga. There is no way we can fight poverty and other problems without uniting first,” he said.
Mr Kenyatta attributed his track record of development to the unity of the country. “If, as leaders, we join hands and work together, we will succeed in transforming the lives of Kenyans.
“A good example is this hospital project that had stalled for close to 30 years, but we managed to finish it when the national and county governments, together with other leaders, joined hands to ensure its completion,” the President said.
He also pointed a finger at politicians using the recent crackdown on the boda boda sector to gain political influence. Following an assault on a female motorist, the government cracked down on the sector to ensure order but later suspended the move.
“I have had some politicians saying the government does not want the boda boda operators to do their business. We will hold a meeting with you very soon so that we can create a framework on how to do our businesses while respecting women and obeying order.”
Mr Kenyatta’s comments came days after Ruto and his allies faulted the government for confiscating motorbikes, accusing it of sabotaging small businesses.
“All the boda boda operators whose bikes were taken away, I urge them to march to the police stations and pick them. They were also fined illegally and their money should be returned so that they can continue doing their businesses,” Dr Ruto said.
Blow to DP
Meanwhile, Ruto suffered another blow after four of his key point-men ditched his camp to rejoin President Kenyatta's wing.
Sirisia MP John Waluke, who has been an ardent supporter of the DP in Western, yesterday went back to the ruling Jubilee Party. He joins three legislators from Turkana who joined the ruling party on Friday morning.
Mr Waluke was received by the party's Secretary-General and Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni at Jubilee headquarters in Pangani, Nairobi.
Confirming the move to the Saturday Nation, Mr Kioni said the lawmaker also paid nomination fees to defend his seat on a Jubilee ticket.
"Yes, Honourable Waluke is back to the party and he has also paid nomination fees. He is one of the MPs who we have received," said Mr Kioni.
Mr Waluke has been working with his colleagues Didmus Barasa (Kimilili), Dan Wanyama (Webuye West) and Mwambu Mabongah (Bumula) to drum up support for DP Ruto in Bungoma.
Change of mind
Recently, Mr Waluke, who was serving as chairperson of Jubilee in Bungoma before he joined Tangatanga, said there was no way their political careers would be strangled through zoning for the sake of Ford Kenya's Moses Wetang'ula who has since joined hands with Dr Ruto under Kenya Kwanza Alliance.
In Turkana, James Lomenen (Turkana South), Ali Lokiru (Turkana East) and Turkana Woman Representative Joyce Emanikor joined Jubilee, ditching DP Ruto’s camp.
"Turkana is a Jubilee zone. Today, I received Honourable Emanikor, Lomenen and Lokiru Ali to our party who have decamped from United Democratic Alliance (UDA)," said Jubilee director of elections Kanini Kega.