Uhuru tells off Ruto allies over BBI rallies
- ODM and Kieleweke MPs threaten to lock their Tangatanga colleagues out of their consultative forums.
- On Monday, the leaders allied to Deputy President William Ruto said their parallel political rallies.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has laughed off moves by some Jubilee lawmakers attempting to scuttle his unity efforts through the handshake and the Building Bridges Initiative.
In what appeared to be a veiled message to members of Jubilee’s Tangatanga faction who on Monday resolved to chart their own political path by, among others, organising their own political rallies as part of the ongoing BBI forums, the President said his unity quest is unstoppable and no amount of politicking will derail the initiative.
“Mimi sina haja na siasa ndugu zangu (I have no interest in politics) … all I want is a united country after 2022,” he said at Kabazi Trading Centre in Nakuru county.
He went on: “I therefore urge all the leaders to be careful and shun divisive politics and instead work towards the development of this nation.”
On Monday, the leaders allied to Deputy President William Ruto said their parallel political rallies, the first being in Nakuru county on February 8, will be organised as part of plans to maintain their own political identity, which they could not get from those being led by ODM leader Raila Odinga.
On Tuesday, all eight MPs from Nakuru County allied to DP Ruto snubbed the President’s event. Only Woman Rep Liza Chelule and her Nakuru Town East counterpart David Gikaria attended the event. The President was in Nakuru to preside over the opening of a National Cement Company (Simba Cement) plant in Salgaa.
However, at Maili Kumi Centre, President Kenyatta gave Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri, a close ally of DP Ruto, a tongue-lashing, accusing him of “constantly insulting” him in public.
“He should do the job that he was elected to do. Why don’t you tell him to start respecting me and work for you? Can you ask him what I did to him so that he’s always insulting me? Tell him to mind his own business if he is unable to work,” the President said of Mr Ngunjiri.
Just last week, the MP recorded a statement at the Nakuru Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) offices over his recent remarks that DP Ruto was kicked out of a government house in Mombasa.
A day later, Mr Ngunjiri was ordered to surrender his firearm to the regional police headquarters. But despite this, the vocal MP said he would not back down in his push to have the DP succeed President Kenyatta.
Even as the President spoke in Nakuru, lawmakers mainly from Mr Odinga’s party were pushing for DP Ruto’s allies to be locked out of their subsequent consultative meetings.
The MPs argued that since the Tangatanga MPs had announced a schedule of their own meetings, they should “not confuse Kenyans by also attending our rallies which have the political blessings of the President and Mr Odinga”.
Addressing reporters at Parliament, the 30 MPs clarified that there is only one BBI report borne out of the handshake between the two leaders and no parallel meetings should be held.
Led by Minority Leader John Mbadi and Minority Whip Junet Mohamed, the MPs said the DP’s allies will not be given an opportunity to speak in any of their meetings should they attend.
They accused the DP of summoning his troops to Naivasha where the plan to have parallel rallies was announced, a move they called divisive and bad for the country.
“The DP finds it very hard to accept that Kenya’s political dispensation has changed to include everyone. He has not accepted that President Kenyatta has decided to open up his government for all Kenyans,” Mr Mohammed said.
“It is our firm belief that the rationale of the Naivasha meeting was a dirty scheme by the Deputy President to undermine President Kenyatta. He is running a parallel system whose only purpose is his desperation for power,” he added.
The MPs challenged the DP to face the President instead of using his allies to undermine the Head of State.
“The DP has opposed BBI since inception and his behaviour is hardly surprising. If the DP thinks he has grown politically and can stand on his own, let him resign and let the President deliver on his mandate,” Mr Mohammed added.
Mr Mbadi dismissed the parallel rallies, saying President Kenyatta had appointed regional leaders to take charge of the BBI meetings.
He described the Naivasha meeting as a show of disrespect to the President by the DP since any Jubilee meeting should be chaired by the party leader.
Homa Bay MP Gladys Wanga challenged DP Ruto’s allies to come up with another BBI if they are not happy with the one produced after the handshake between the President and Mr Odinga.
“For now, there is only one BBI and we can’t have parallel rallies for it,” Ms Wanga said.
Kieni MP Kanini Kega dismissed the parallel forums, calling them political rallies that have nothing to do with the BBI report and urged the public to ignore them.
“The meeting held in Naivasha was not a Jubilee Party meeting. It was their own meeting with their own agenda. As Jubilee Party, we have procedures that must be followed before a meeting is convened and that was not done,” Mr Kega said.
“Now we know where they stand, we will not give them a chance to speak in our rallies. Instead they should go to their rallies,” added Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala.
The MPs also dismissed the recommendations of the DP’s allies that 3.5 per cent of national revenue be allocated to the Judiciary, calling it strange and alarming as the Judiciary Fund has existed for the past 10 years.
“We find it suspicious that the demand came just after the President and Chief Justice met on Monday and the issue of funding cropped up,” the MPs said.
They pointed out that the National Assembly’s Budget and Appropriations Committee, which determines budgetary allocations, is chaired by Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wa, who is a close ally of the DP.
The lawmakers also claimed there was a plot to impeach the President, but did not provide any evidence to back their claims.
Meanwhile, President Kenyatta will take charge of the Building Bridges Initiative meetings in his Mt Kenya backyard in a bid to pacify the region following rising disquiet among supporters who feel abandoned.
Organisers of the Building Bridges Initiative forum slated for February 15 in Meru said they were in talks with President Kenyatta to attend the meeting.
Describing the meeting as a forum for the Gema (Gikuyu, Embu and Meru) communities, the forum will be held at Kinoru Stadium in Meru town.
Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi, who is spearheading the BBI campaigns in the region, said they will ensure issues that improve the lives of Mt Kenya region residents are captured in the report.
“The BBI forum in Meru will be the biggest in the country, bringing together the Meru, Embu and Kikuyu communities. We will have leaders and residents from 11 counties to share their views on the BBI. We are also in talks with the President to ensure he attends the important meeting,” Mr Kiraitu said.
Additional reports by Samuel Owino, Charles Wanyoro and David Muchui