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DP William Ruto and Raila Odinga’s political war intensifies

By Standard Team | August 19th 2015

NAIROBI: Deputy President William Ruto Tuesday took the war of words between him and Raila Odinga a notch higher when he told the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy leader to stop being evasive about a debt he allegedly owes a sugar miller.

Reacting a day after Raila made abrasive remarks about him, the DP suggested that the CORD leader was partly responsible for crippling the sugar sector.

Raila described Ruto as ‘the high priest of corruption’ on Monday after a strategy meeting of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) in Machakos.

The DP challenged Raila to explain why he owes peasant cane farmers millions of shillings, yet he could have borrowed money from commercial banks.

“Now that my friend Tinga admits owing peasant cane farmers millions of shillings, can he explain why he did not take this ‘commercial loan’ from a bank?” Ruto posed on his Twitter handle.

National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale and over 30 Jubilee MPs also took on Raila during a press conference at Parliament Buildings Tuesday.

Duale claimed Raila was shedding crocodile tears over the sugar crisis, saying his attacks against the Jubilee government were designed to shield him from his own role in the collapse of the sugar industry.

“Raila’s melodramatic lamentations are nothing but a torrent of crocodile tears meant to deceive farmers and portray him as a defender of their rights. After being cagey and evasive for months, he has finally confessed that he owes Mumias sugarcane farmers hundreds of millions, which he casually and callously terms a commercial loan. Under what circumstances did Raila and companies associated with him contract a debt of such a magnitude with poor farmers?” the MPs asked.

MPs from the sugar belt who attended the press conference included Benjamin Washiali (Mumias East), David Wafula (Saboti), Yusuf Chanzu and David Were (Matungu).

Washiali said the Government has been supportive of reviving the industry and claimed the CORD leader is misleading Western Kenya residents.

“I want to tell the people of Western that as they go to attend CORD meetings, they should know which side of their bread is buttered,” said Washiali.

Raila is scheduled to address public rallies in Western this weekend, where Mumias Sugar Company issue is expected to feature prominently.

Rift Valley leaders also rushed to the defence of the DP yesterday and alleged a plot to portray him as corrupt. They said Raila’s allegations were a pointer to frustrations in the CORD leadership.

National Assembly Deputy Speaker Joyce Laboso claimed there is a well-choreographed scheme to portray Ruto as corrupt and therefore unfit to lead.

“Raila and the Opposition are well aware that they will not trounce us and have thus began moves aimed at discrediting influential leaders in this coalition. We are telling them that Kenyans know better than this,” she said.

Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen said Raila is jealous of Ruto because of his political rise. But Opposition leaders claimed the Government is plotting to generate Sh120 billion from the sugar deal for the 2017 elections and dared President Kenyatta to lay bare details the agreement. They also accused senior jubilee officials of being interested in advancing their own interests at the expense of the country’s economy.

The MPs led by ODM Chairman John Mbadi (Suba), Elections Director Junet Mohammed (Suna East) were reacting to the statement by their Jubilee colleagues. “The unchecked importation will open a floodgate for cheap sugar into the country,” said Mbadi.

Mohammed said Jubilee is busy looking for funds for 2017.

“The Government should not belittle the issues of cane farmers. It affects people in Nyanza, Western and Coast regions and we are going to defend their interests at all costs, “said Mohammed.

Report by Steve Mkawale, Charles Ngeno, Silah Koskei, Roselyne Obala and Wilfred Ayaga

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