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Polls debate is over and done with, Ruto tells Opposition

By Osinde Obare and Wilfred Ayaga | Published Sun, February 4th 2018 at 00:00, Updated February 3rd 2018 at 21:27 GMT +3
DP William Ruto condoles the family of the late former vice president's wife, Yvonne Wamalwa during her burial ceremony in Kitale. [Photo/DPPS]

Deputy President William Ruto has ruled out any hope that the government will cut a political deal with the Opposition.

In a face-off with one of NASA leader Raila Odinga's co-principal, Moses Wetang'ula, the DP put his foot down in the wake of the Opposition's renewed calls for dialogue.

The only discussion Jubilee administration can have with the Opposition movement is strictly on matters of development, he said.

The public spat comes days after Raila controversially took an oath as ‘the People’s President’, after his efforts and that of his co-principals Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi and Wetang’ula to hold talks with President Uhuru Kenyatta failed.

Media switch-off

The DP who spoke during the funeral of Yvonne Wamalwa, widow of former Vice President Kijana Wamalwa, made it clear that President Kenyatta is duly in office after being elected by Kenyans.

“We are ready to talk about how millions of Kenyan youths will get jobs, how to produce enough food to end the biting hunger and how to ensure hospital bills are paid through NHIF. That is the discussion we want to have," he said at the funeral, where politics took centre-stage.

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Earlier before Ruto spoke, Senator Wetang’ula, who was the only NASA luminary present at the ceremony, took a swipe at the Deputy President and the government for ignoring the Opposition's calls for a national dialogue.

“William, our country is facing serious challenges and we cannot bury our heads in the sand and say everything is fine. We need a national conversation. If we cannot hold dialogue now, by the time we talk, there will be no country to talk about,” said the Bungoma Senator in direct reference to the DP.

Mr Wetang’ula tore into Jubilee for its restriction of personal freedoms in recent days, and the switching off of four of the country’s main television stations for covering Opposition activities.

When he took to the stage, Ruto was blunt, declaring the election matter a case of "God's case, no appeal" in the words of writer Chinua Achebe.

"If you want us to talk about who will be the President or DP and that kind of thing, allow me to inform you that we are not qualified to do so. It is only the people of Kenya who can decide that, and they already did on August 8, and October 26, 2017," the DP said.

He said the hype the Opposition is engaged in with regard to post-election grievances was unhelpful to their cause. Instead, he advised, NASA ought to put its house in order to stand a chance in the next round of election.

“Last time, you took a lot of time to decide on your flag-bearer. Now that the election is done and you have lost, you have resorted to side-shows. If you are still disorganised, you will still lose in 2022," he warned.

He urged the Opposition to cease misleading its supporters that there was a chance for another round of election before 2022. In an indirect reference to the oath taken by Raila last Tuesday, Ruto asked NASA to "follow the law and the Constitution".

“Yvonne, when you reach heaven, tell the late Wamalwa that Trans Nzoia County is still in Ford Kenya. Tell him that in Kenya today, people cannot watch television. Tell him that back in Kenya, Opposition leaders have been denied security. Tell him that we have our strategy. Tell him that we swore-in Raila and we are waiting to swear-in Kalonzo,” Wetang'ula had exhorted.

Since Tuesday, focus has been on Wetang'ula, Kalonzo and Mudavadi after the trio failed to show up at the much touted 'swearing-in' ceremony at Uhuru Park in Nairobi, amid claims of betrayal.

Yesterday was the first time Wetang'ula addressed a public meeting in his political stronghold after the debacle. It was also the first time the DP was sharing the same podium with an Opposition principal.

Government crackdown

In the wake of the swearing-in debacle, the government embarked on a crackdown of those who were involved, shutting television stations and arresting a number of key Opposition leaders, among them Ruaraka legislator TJ Kajwang' and lawyer Miguna Miguna.

Yesterday, the DP gave the media shutdown debate a wide berth despite being prodded by Opposition leaders present.

“Article 35 of the Constitution says that every Kenyan has a right to information. The government should cease attacks on media houses going about their work,” Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa challenged the DP.

Raila, although widely expected to attend the ceremony, did not show up, defusing a potentially explosive showdown at the funeral.

The government’s Chief Whip Benjamin Washiali ran into trouble when he was booed for dismissing the recent swearing-in of Raila. Mourners heckled him, forcing him to cut short his speech.

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Chief Executive Ezra Chiloba had his fair share of humiliation after mourners booed him when Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka recognised his presence.

Other leaders present were governors Patrick Khaemba(Trans Nzoia), Wycliffe Wangamati (Bungoma), Wilberforce Ottichilo (Vihiga) and Sospeter Ojaamong' (Busia) and area Senator Michael Mbito.

MPs Robert Pukose (Endebess), Caleb Amisi( Saboti), Didimus Barasa (Kimilili), Janet Nangabo (Trans Nzoia), Eseli Simiyu (Tongaren) and Ferdinand Wanyonyi (Kwanza).

Other MPs were Oscar Sudi (Kapseret), Catherine Wambilinga (Bungoma), Wafula Wamunyinyi (Kanduyi), Dan Wanyama (Webuye West), John Waluke (Sirisia), Raphael Wanjala (Budalang’i) and Moses Kuria (Gatundu South).

In his message of condolence read by the DP, President Uhuru described the late Yvonne as a positive influence in the community.

“As we mourn her, let us also celebrate her achievements,” he said.

Former President Mwai Kibaki described the departed as "a strong woman who dedicated her time to raise her young family".

(Additional reporting by Daniel Psirmoi)

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