President William Ruto on Wednesday afternoon reiterated his position that opposition leader Raila Odinga's protests were an attempt to reopen what he said was a closed issue: the August 2022 election in which he was declared the winner.
While insisting that the Kenya Kwanza administration would protect and promote the democratic gains made under the 2010 constitution, the president said the government would not allow demonstrations aimed at destroying property and disrupting business.
Speaking in Kericho as more than 15 counties witnessed protests called by Mr Odinga to demand that the government address the skyrocketing cost of basic commodities amid an increase in taxes, President Ruto said Mr Odinga should respect that the presidential election was decided by the people through the ballot box and the outcome would not be changed by demonstrations and destruction of property.
Against the backdrop of demonstrations led by Mr Odinga and his Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition brigade, Dr Ruto said the police must come out strong and protect people's lives and property from "political hooligans".
"We must embrace political competition without violence, chaos, hooliganism and destruction of property," Dr Ruto said.
Protect the tenets of democracy
Speaking in Kericho town ahead of the opening of a Sh1.5 billion Kimugu water project, Dr Ruto said all Kenyans must protect the tenets of democracy without destroying property.
"We have no spare parts for this country and as such we must protect it by all means," Dr Ruto said.
The President is accompanied by his Deputy Rigathi Gachagua, Kericho Governor Erick Mutai, Senate Majority Leader Aaron Cheruiyot and local MPs.
"The police have a duty to protect the people and their property. They should not allow the destruction of property as was witnessed earlier (in the Azimio demonstrations)," said President Ruto.
He said all security agencies have been deployed to protect the people and ensure that normal business resumes across the country.
Dr Ruto said his government would ensure a conducive environment for investors and create job opportunities for the youth.
The President made two stops in the town to respond to calls from residents for him to address them before heading to Kimugu at Duka Moja for the main event.
Traditionally, he inaugurates projects before addressing the people, but this appeared to have changed on Wednesday due to the ongoing protests in parts of the country.
Mr Odinga has called for three-day protests from Wednesday to Friday to protest against the high cost of living and the outcome of the presidential election, among other issues.
But the government has responded with a heavy-handed crackdown, banning demonstrations and using police to disperse stone-throwing youths in various parts of the country.