I don't hate William Ruto, Raila Odinga tells South Rift residents

Raila Odinga and DP William Ruto shake hands during the installation of Philip Anyolo as the Archbishop of Kisumu Catholic Archdiocese. [File, Standard]

Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya presidential candidate Raila Odinga has promised to take care of the interests of Rift Valley residents if he wins the presidency.

Addressing a rally in Bomet, yesterday, Raila said he does not hate the perceived kingpin of the Kalenjin community, Deputy President William Ruto.

He said there was nothing personal between him and Ruto and that they were only engaging in a healthy political competition devoid of hatred.

“Mimi na Kiongozi wenu tuko kwa mashindano ya kisiasa, na sisi si maadui. Na mimi siwezi kuwaumiza (Your leader and I are in a political competition. We are not enemies, and I cannot hurt you),” he said.

Raila promised to include the people of Rift Valley in his government if elected president in the August 9 General Election.

“Let no one cheat you that you will be sidelined by my government. We will treat everyone equally,” he told the residents at Ndanai trading centre after attending a church service.

“When I was the prime minister, I offered employment to most of your sons and daughters like Sally Kosgey, Henry Kosgey, Margaret Kamar, the late Lorna Laboso, Kipkalya Kones, and many others.”

The ODM leader was accompanied by his running mate Martha Karua, Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya and Cotu Secretary General Francis Atwoli, among other leaders.

He took time to explain the Azimio manifesto and policies to residents, saying he has the interest of all Kenyans at heart.

“I will look into your interests as a region and I want you to consider me as your son,” Raila said.

He promised to prioritise economic liberation and war against corruption.

Raila appealed to residents not to vote along ethnic lines but to look at the development plans of the candidates seeking elective seats.

He said ethnicity was holding back development in the country.

“Ethnicity has become a problem for the country and we should shun leaders flashing the card when seeking votes,” he said.

Karua concurred with Raila, saying it is sad that ethnicity takes centre stage during elections.

“We do not look at our ethnic background when looking for a partner but it is sad how we align ourselves along tribal lines when picking leaders. We should move away from this and look at what those seeking election have to offer,” she said.

Raila also weighed in on tea picking machines that have been introduced by multinational companies in Bomet.

He said like other developed countries, Kenya should abolish the machines for the sake of employment opportunities for locals.

“I agree with leaders pushing for abolishing of tea machines because our youth need jobs,” he said, promising to take action on the companies if he is elected into office.

Atwoli said the machines, which have kept increasing annually, have deprived Kenyans of their livelihoods.