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President Uhuru Kenyatta starts his Western tour, says it’s too early to campaign

POLITICS
By Grace Wekesa and Titus Oteba | November 15th 2015
President Uhuru joins entertainment groups at Lwakhakha shopping center when he launched Lwakhakha- Chwele road in Bungoma County Saturday. PHOTO: BENJAMIN SAKWA

BUNGOMA: President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto yesterday visited Bungoma County where they led a large delegation of Jubilee officials on a tour to commission various development projects.

The President and the DP, however, downplayed reports that their visit to the Western region was designed to win them support and insisted that this was not the time for political campaigns.

“We are for development, those who think we will be campaigning for five years are mistaken. The electorate want to see development in education, health, infrastructure and business,’’ said Uhuru.

The visit comes at a time when the Jubilee administration has been under pressure to contain corruption in government and has been  described as a tour that the ruling coalition wants to use to shore up support in Western Kenya and the Rift Valley.

The tour began at Lwakhakha Market in Sirisia Constituency where an immigration office was opened to strengthen trade, movement and security at the border points between Kenya and Uganda.

Revenue collection

“The opening of the immigration office in Lwakhakha will help facilitate our partnership with Uganda, streamline revenue collection, trade and security. It will encourage good trade,’’ said President Uhuru.

He also commissioned the Lwakhakha-Chwele road, and noted that the tarmacked road would ease movement of goods and people in Kenya, Uganda and Sudan.

“President Museveni will tarmac the road from Mbale to the border, where it will link to the Kenyan side. This will be the shortest route to Sudan and different government agencies will be posted here. I am optimistic there will be cohesion at our borders,’’ said the Head of State.

The President’s entourage had stop-overs at Sirisia and Chwele towns where the leaders addressed residents and reiterated that the Government was determined to ensure locals can access electricity.

 “This is what my deputy and I were elected to do. To ensure that locals receive prosperity is our mandate as a government,’’ Uhuru said.

Ruto echoed these sentiments and said security at the border points would be tightened to prevent smuggling.

The final event was at Kibabii College which was issued with a charter and became a fully-fledged university, the first in Bungoma County.

The President was installed as the university’s chancellor.

During the functon, Bungoma Senator and CORD co-principal Moses Wetang'ula advised the Government to listen to the Opposition in order to foster vibrant democracy.

Wetang'ula echoed former President Mwai Kibaki who on Friday urged the Government to dialogue with the Opposition instead of being defensive.

“We have been criticising your government and we shall continue to do so. Criticism should not be seen as enmity. It is not because we dislike you, but we intend to make you perform better,’’ said Wetang'ula.

However, the President responded that insults do not translate to dialogue. “You are my brother, Wetang'ula, but you’re fond of insulting my administration. I welcome positive criticism that is issue-based instead of insults,’’ Uhuru said.

Ruto cautioned leaders against politicising development issues to gain political mileage. “Let us support government projects that benefit the common mwananchi instead of criticising every move,’’ said Ruto.

Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale left the event after claiming he had blocked from getting a seat at the presidential dais.

“They planned it that way to humiliate Opposition leaders. I am heading to Mumias for another function. Why should I sit here like a beggar,’’ said Khalwale.

Present at the event were Cabinet Secretaries Eugene Wamalwa, James Macharia, Judy Wakhungu, Aden Mohammed and Joseph Nkaissery and PS Belio Kipsang. Governors Kenneth Lusaka, Moses Akaranga, Sospeter Ojaamong and Patrick Khaemba, and MPs John Waluke, Dan Wanyama, Wafula Wamunyinyi, Reginalda Wanyonyi, Alfred Sambu, Mary Emase, Benjamin Washiali, Yusuf Chanzu, Janet Nangabo, Boniface Otsula, Lazarus Wafula, John Serut, Bunyasi Sakwa and Simiyu Eseli were also present.

Tomorrow, Uhuru will commission a road that passes by Ruto’s planned palatial residence in Eldoret East Constituency. He will commission the Ilula-Elgeyo Border road that begins from Limo Hospital in Eldoret Municipality through Kipchawat, Tendwo to Kaptagat.  His vist of the Rift Valley has been viewed by the Opposition as a tour to cement Jubilee's strength in the region.

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