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I’m not at war with Raila, says Ruto

By | August 30th 2009

By Biketi Kikechi

Agriculture Minister William Ruto called an unexpected press briefing on Sunday morning at his house in Eldoret, last week.

It was unexpected because the minister was to host 23 Rift Valley MPs later in the day at Cheptiret in Eldoret South for a prayer meeting. The minister told journalists gathered at his house he wanted to put the record straight.

He was concerned the media had continued to misinterpret positions taken by Rift Valley MPs on issues related to the Mau complex and post-election violence.

He was also not happy that the media had continued to portray they are at war with Prime Minister Raila Odinga. Earlier in the week, some civic leaders had told the Standard on Sunday they had invited Raila for a harambee at Cheptiret Secondary School.

That was a week away from a hurriedly planned prayer meeting at the same school. For some reason, the harambee did not take place yesterday, although the civic leaders said ODM Chairman Henry Kosgey, who was to represent the PM, was held up in Nairobi.

Prayer meeting

A day before the 23 MPs converged at Cheptiret, some ODM MPs had indicated the prayer meeting was to take place in Beatrice Kones’ Bomet constituency.

Cherangany MP Joshua Kutuny said the Bomet meeting was moved to Eldoret because of Tenwek Mission Hospital anniversary celebrations. It therefore appears Ruto quickly rearranged the Cheptiret meeting because he had already invited the 25 MPs although only 23 turned up.

Interestingly, during the Cheptiret meeting, all MPs rallied behind former President Moi over his stand on the Mau. This was timely, considering it took place a day after the PM told Moi to keep off Mau and accused the former President of interfering with plans to conserve the forest.

Ruto and Raila are expected to meet at Moi University’s Chepkoilel campus in Eldoret on Tuesday, where the PM will open a farmers’ field day.

Elders from the region are also expected to meet the Prime Minister.

Among the elders invited to meet Raila is Uasin Gishu politician Jackson Kibor.

Kibor told the Standard on Sunday he visited Raila at his office a few weeks ago and asked him to be free when visiting Rift Valley.

The outspoken leader, who served as Uasin Gishu Kanu chairman, Ford Kenya branch chairman and later Ford People trustee, said the Kalenjin MPs were causing unnecessary enmity with other communities.

"In 1992, we fought against the Luhya, in 1997 we fought other tribes and last year the election results caused another rift between the Kikuyu and Kalenjin," Kibor said.

He said Raila, Ruto and all ODM MPs have to work together to foster harmony among Kenyans.

He said settlers moving from the Mau should either be compensated or allocated land elsewhere before they are removed.

He, however, disagrees with local MPs on their stand on the Mau saying there are many squatters in Nandi who were evicted from Cerengonik forest.

"Our leaders are making a lot of noise instead of leaving the matter to the Kipsigis MPs who are directly affected because they settled their people there," he said.

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