State: Expect consequences in case of Saba Saba violence

Nairobi, Kenya: The Government has said the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) is free to hold the Saba Saba rally in Nairobi on Monday but warned that those who engage in mass action would be prosecuted.

Deputy President William Ruto said the Government had no objection to the Opposition's rally because the Constitution guarantees freedom of assembly but he cautioned CORD leaders against inciting their supporters to violence.

"The Opposition can proceed with Saba Saba, we have no problem. But, we do not want to go the slippery route again - that of mass action that leads to loss of lives and destruction of property," the Deputy President warned.

Ruto said the State would beef up security for the rally but urged Opposition supporters to leave for their homes immediately after the meeting.

He directed that the Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo deploy enough security personnel to the venue of the rally to guarantee security.

"The IG must make plans to ensure that Kenyans who want to attend Saba Saba rally are secure so that they can go to the meeting, finish and go home," Ruto said in an interview with Citizen Television station on Tuesday night.

Ruto denied that he was the impediment to the dialogue calls, saying the Government's position was that such dialogue should be within existing structures provided for in the Constitution.

"I do not know why they think I'm blocking talks. None of them has ever called me, they have not even written a letter to me or an email or a message through WhatsApp," he said.

He went on: "If people want to walk away from the set institutions and want to engage us in a sideshow, that is what we are saying no to. We absolutely have no problem in engaging with the Opposition but it cannot be in a situation where you are given conditions, ultimatums. On what? Ruto posed.

"If it is an honest discussion between Kenyan leaders, they know they can get one from us. What we don't want is discussions about mass action; that 'we are going to make the country ungovernable if you don't do what we are saying'. Spare Kenyans that kind of discussion."

The DP suggested that if the Opposition was not willing to engage the country within structured institutions then CORD leader Raila Odinga, whom he said has President Uhuru Kenyatta's contacts, could alternatively call the Head of State and have a candid chat on the issues he is raising.

"The former PM told the country the other day that before he went to the US, he had a one-hour discussion with the President. What is it that he wants us to talk about that he could not tell the President in the 1hr discussion they had?" he posed.

He said the Opposition must remove what he described as drama and theatrics if they wanted a genuine discussion with the Government.  "I have Raila's number, he can call me and he knows every time he has called me I have called him back if I didn't answer," he said.

Ruto further said: "This talk you hear that Ruto is the problem and not the President is because many of these friends of ours believed Jubilee would not last because we were going to disagree. That one thing I promise the country is that we are not going to run another quarrelsome government," he said

On talk that he was often contradicting the President, Ruto replied: "For anyone to insinuate we could pull in different directions with the President they are wasting their time."

He added: "He is my boss. There is nothing I can say that is not in tandem with where we want to go. I read his mind and know what he wants for this country. I know the plans he has for the country and what we have agreed on as Jubilee."