Ruto camp defiant ahead of planned events in Mumias

A police officer blocks politicians led by former Machakos Senator Johnston Muthama (holding fly-whisk) from proceeding to the Diani Reef Hotel for a meeting, yesterday. [Omondi Onyango, Standard]

Allies of Deputy President William Ruto have dared the State to cancel tomorrow’s planned meeting in Mumias, days after he was forced by the police to abandon an event in Nyamira.

The politicians declared they will not accept further humiliation by State officials who want to block Ruto’s 2022 presidential quest.

Senators Kipchumba Murkomen (Elgeyo Marakwet) and Samson Cherargei (Nandi) and MPs Caleb Kositany (Soy), Didmus Barasa (Kimilili) and Hilary Kosgei (Kipkelion West) said they will not allow their right to assemble as well as freedom of association to be trampled upon.

A tentative itinerary indicates that the DP will attend a church service and a fundraiser in Mumias East constituency, where he will be hosted by MP Ben Washiali.

Kositany said the actions targeted at Ruto were a sign that “the deep State was scared of being beaten hands down by the hustler nation.”

Barasa said they would obey the law but would not allow their rights to be abused.

“We will comply with the regulations but if they cancel our meeting on flimsy grounds again, then it will be clear they are playing politics and we will not hesitate to face off with them,” he said.

Murkomen said the path those opposed to the DP have taken will only embolden him and his supporters.

“If the president wanted my advice on how to slow the hustler movement, I would tell him don’t fight it. Let them do their thing.

“By not fighting it, you allow them to make their mistakes and keep the country peaceful,” he said.

Kosgei said they would defy orders that are unconstitutional, adding that their campaigns were unstoppable.

The event comes barely two days after a gathering the DP was to address in Kebirigo, Nyamira County was teargassed, forcing the DP to cancel his visit to the region.

Karen office

Ruto’s allies issued the threat amid unconfirmed reports the event in Mumias may not be allowed to take place. Other reports indicate the ban on political gatherings may extend to Ruto’s official residence in Karen.

A senior government operative told Saturday Standard that the State was planning to use the violation of Covid-19 health regulations as a basis for banning the meetings.

“He has been holding events where there is no social distancing and wearing of masks,” said the source. 

“It is a sign of sabotage to have a senior government official use a State facility to breach regulations set by the same government. We might consider certain drastic actions if he wants to continue abusing a government installation.

“When the president hosts meetings at State House, all the set protocols are always adhered to. During the Covid-19 conference at KICC, you saw even the seating arrangement adhered to the required social distance.” 

It was, however, not immediately clear how such a ban would be implemented.

In the Coast, former senators Johnstone Muthama, Hassan Omar, Boni Khalwale and Kikuyu MP Kamau Ichung’wah were also crying foul yesterday after they were barred from meeting delegates who had gathered at a Diani hotel to pick their candidate for the December 15 by-election in Msambweni.

The police had set up road blocks as early as 6am on routes leading to the hotel where supporters of Ruto allies Bashir Kilalo, Feisal Abdalla Bader and Peter Nzuki intended to gather to settle on a single candidate to face-off against ODM’s Omar Boga.

Ruto wants Kilalo, Bader and Nzuki to decide who will challenge Boga, who came second in the 2017 General Election ahead of Kilalo.

The police told Saturday Standard that the group did not seek authorisation in good time to proceed with the meeting as decreed by the National Security Advisory Committee on Wednesday.

Sources said the leaders sought permission on Thursday instead of three days in advance as proposed by the committee.

The police said that despite knowing the meeting was illegal, the three former senators and MP hopped into a helicopter and flew to Diani airstrip only to run into a road block.

Muthama, Omar, Khalwale and Ichung’wah engaged Diani OCS Zachary Nyawara and his Tourist Police Unit OCS Tony Nyongesa in an argument that lasted about one hour but they were prevented from proceeding with their journey.

Coast MPs Owen Baya, Khatib Mwashetani, Benjamin Tayari, Mohamed Ali, Aisha Jumwa and Sharif Athman, who presented Bader to Ruto late last month after Jubilee pulled out of the by-election, kept away.

Leaders allied to Tangatanga said Ruto’s quest to succeed Uhuru would not be stopped by using security agents to harass and intimidate his backers.

The National Security Advisory Committee (NSAC) chaired by Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua on Wednesday called for compliance with the Public Order Act during meetings.

The directive requires that a convener or any person intending to hold a public meeting or a public procession shall notify the officer commanding station (OCS) of such intent at least three days but not more than 14 days before the proposed the event.

Individuals holding public gatherings will also be required to “obey all orders given to him or her by the OCS or any police officer of or above the rank of inspector.”

The Constitution states that a regulating officer can deny the assembly only if notice of another assembly at the same venue, time and date had already been received.

The notification of denial shall be in writing and shall be delivered to the organiser at the physical address specified.

Ruto became the first casualty of the tough measures on Thursday after police forcefully dispersed his meeting in Kebirigo.

Last Sunday, a church meeting he was scheduled to attend in Murang’a County turned violent after opposing factions engaged in running battles leading to two deaths.

Ruto later tweeted that he would proceed with the meeting on Thursday next week.