A day after President Uhuru Kenyatta asked for forgiveness, Deputy President William Ruto turned up at AIC Bomani in Machakos town and did the same.
In what is arguably the toughest week yet for the DP with a State sanctioned crackdown on his meetings, a subdued DP offered himself for special prayers, admitting that he was heavy laden.
Addressing faithful, Ruto criticised the police for lobbying tear gas in places of worship. Ruto was scheduled to attend funds drives at St Leo Catholic Church Shianda in Mumias East and Our Lady of Assumption Indangalasia Catholic Church in Matungu, but police outlawed the two events.
“I agree with what was said by our leader, President Uhuru Kenyatta, that we should find a path to forgiveness because we are all humans with weaknesses. Likewise, I am taking this opportunity to say to all that I may have wronged in one way or another, I kindly ask for forgiveness,” Ruto said.
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He called for tolerance for divergent opinions and the reverence of places of worship.
Ruto warned of the wrath of God if State organs continued stoking chaos in places of worship to achieve sinister political motives.
He said it was only through forgiveness that the country would forge together in unity and peace. The DP regretted the recent events where police disrupted his functions.
“As a country we must begin to walk in the path of tolerance and forgiveness. As a Christian I apologise on behalf of the government because some individuals who work for us lobbed tear gas in a church in Murang’a. Another meeting to fundraise for a church in Nyamira was also tear gassed as well as a similar function in Kakamega,” he said.
Ruto said such acts have “no place in Kenya, which professes to fear God. We should never have such in a country where we profess to be a God-fearing nation. Tear gas should be nowhere near any altar or any congregation of whatever nature of worshippers”.
Invoking the president’s call for forgiveness and reconciliation during Saturday’s national prayer day, the DP said it was high time the country embraced political tolerance and shunned divisive politics.
“I am asking church leaders and all believers to pray for our nation so that whatever is going on at the moment -- tear-gassing of congregants by police -- we want to pray that the wrath of God does not descend on us,” said the DP.
Ruto said the Jubilee Government owes credence to prayers offered in churches and must jealously guard against affliction of worshipers in churches. The DP vowed to stand firm in his commitment to support churches.
He praised Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana and alluded to a budding alliance between them, saying they were speaking the same language but using different terminology.
“The Wanjikus Kibwana fights for are the real hustlers. I know they will start saying Kibwana has now joined the DP. What makes them think I cannot join him myself, especially given that he is a full professor and I am mere doctor,” Ruto mused.
Kibwana told the DP to stand firm in pursuing the “Hustler Nation” dream. “Let us stop cheating ourselves that the hustler narrative will go anywhere because it is here to stay,” he said.
The governor urged the public to resist any move to return Kenya to the dark days of dictatorship, saying freedom of association and speech must be protected.
Mwala MP Vincent Musyoka told those in power to stop using State machinery to intimidate others and especially faithful in church. “Where is the logic to stop the DP from attending church and allowing others freedom of the same,” posed Musyoka.
Machakos Town MP Victor Munyaka said freedom of worship was superior to any other laws imposed to police social order in the country.
“We condemn the violence and chaos which were witnessed in Murang’a and other places which were meant to show that DP Ruto’s events are chaotic,” said Munyaka.
Embakasi West MP George Theuri wondered why the law on public gatherings was being applied selectively against the DP and his political allies.
“As a country, let us not allow this kind of anarchy to thrive. The law should not be applied selectively. The church should rise and stand against such acts,” he said.
Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wa stated that the right to worship and assemble should not be violated. “The rights to freedom of worship and lawful assembly must be protected and there must be no double standards when enforcing any laws,” he said.
Langata MP Nixon Korir said the president’s call for forgiveness was welcome.
“If we are preaching forgiveness, let us embrace justice. Let us be truthful to the oaths that we took. And the church must stand up and agitate for the rights to freedom of worship and assembly,” Korir said.