Ruto, Raila fault State over arrest of senators
By Cyrus Ombati and Roselyne Obala
| August 19th 2020
Deputy President William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga have condemned the arrest of three senators hours before they could take part in a vote on the county revenue-sharing formula on Monday.
Ruto said the use of police officers in the drama was wrong, as Raila questioned the events surrounding the arrest of Cleophas Malala (Kakamega), Christopher Langat (Bomet) and Steve Lelegwe (Samburu).
The deputy president said the incident, where the three were arrested in Nairobi and driven to their counties before the crucial vote, was not the reason millions of Kenyans voted for the Jubilee government.
The senators are among those opposed to a proposed revenue-sharing formula tabled by nominated Senator Petronilla Were that seeks to retain the second-generation formula to share out this financial year’s allocation of Sh316.5 billion to counties.
Senators have disagree a record nine times on how to share out the revenue among counties.
“The abuse of police and criminal justice to bully citizens, threaten and intimidate leaders and now blackmail Senate is wrong, very wrong. It’s not the reason millions woke up early to vote for us,” Ruto said on his social media account.
His criticism was the fiercest, coming from a second-in-command who should have been privy to what happened and who ordered the arrests.
Raila said Monday’s events were a reminder that the struggle for democracy is far from over.
“The State needs to pull back and abandon actions that take away the gains made on our path to democratisation. The warlords need to stop beating the drums of war or financing divisive rhetoric, and our legislators involved in this matter need to search their souls in all honesty and put public good above private gain,” the ODM leader said.
Ruto, however, praised the Senate decision to unlock the stalemate after highly charged debate on Monday by forming a 12-member mediation committee to come up with an amicable solution by Tuesday next week.
The committee comprises senators Johnson Sakaja, Moses Wetang’ula, Stewart Madzayo, Kipchumba Murkomen, Mutula Kilonzo Jr, Susan Kihika, Samson Cherargei, Moses Kajwang’, John Kinyua, Ledama ole Kina, Mahamud Mohamed and Anuar Loitiptip. The team, whose co-convenes are Sakaja and Wetang’ula, had their first meeting yesterday to decide on who would be consulted, including the Commission on Revenue Allocation as directed by the House.
A committee member said they met for housekeeping and agreed to begin sittings to consider the proposed amendments before the House from 9am today.
“We had a housekeeping meeting. We will start substantive meetings tomorrow for three days, with morning and afternoon sittings. We will be siting from 9am to 1pm, and then 2pm to 5pm, then proceed from there based on the status,” said the senator.
Raila said at a time Kenyans should be uniting to confront monumental crises, including a struggling economy and healthcare crisis, no one should push positions that cause more divisions.
“We should desist from actions and utterances that have the potential not only to widen the ethnic divide but also denigrate our young experiment with devolution of resources and services,” said the former premier.
He said now more than ever, Kenyans need to pull together not apart, adding: “Politicians and State organs need to inspire confidence rather than sow doubts in our future as one people. It begins with leaders being honest and embracing integrity on behalf of the people.”
Raila said Monday’s events laid bare the futile struggle to achieve integrity and public good, noting that private gain was fast becoming the basis of Kenyan politics and public offices.
He said the twin sins of failing integrity among elected representatives and the instinct by agents of the State to resort to strong-arm measures to get things accomplished continue to hold Kenya back.
Ruto and Raila spoke a day after senators attempted to forestall the proceedings of a Special Sitting to vote on the revenue formula until their three colleagues, who were in custody, were freed. The lawmakers linked the arrests to their opposition to the new formula, forcing Speaker Kenneth Lusaka to adjourn the House.
He also summoned top security chiefs to explain the circumstance under which the three senators were arrested. However, they failed to appear before the House, with senators Sakaja, Kilonzo Jnr, Cherargei, James Orengo, Kithure Kindiki, Fatuma Dullo, Aaron Cheruiyot and Okong’o Omogeni urging the Speaker to cite them for contempt and invoke Article 125 of the Constitution to enforce appearance.
The three senators arrested were released pending further directions from the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Langat was the first to be released on Monday evening after he was accused of presiding over an illegal oath involving 200 youth last week. Bomet Governor Hillary Barchok led local leaders in showing solidarity with Langat.
Malala was released yesterday after he was accused of flouting Covid-19 rules. Lelegwe was grilled for a second time yesterday at Maralal Police Station over alleged incitement. He arrived at the station at about 10am and was questioned before being released on police bond.
He had been questioned on Monday before being released at 7pm and directed to report back to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations office yesterday. Police said they are investigating him over claims of incitement and cattle rustling.
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