Deputy President William Ruto and his allies came under heavy criticism yesterday over political intolerance after a group of youths blocked Kanu Chairman Gideon Moi from meeting Talai elders.
The backlash followed the blockade of a convoy that was headed for a meeting scheduled by Talai elders.
The group barricaded the road with logs at Sang’alo, forcing the Baringo senator and his entourage to abort their journey to Kapsisiywo in Nandi County.
After the incident, Gideon then made several stopovers in trading centres where he met wananchi.
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Joseph arap Samoei, one of the elders, said they were shocked to hear that their visitor had been blocked by the youths.
Reacting to the incident, Jubilee Party Vice Chairman David Murathe, a fierce critic of the DP, said what happened was extremely uncalled for given that it was happening in Ruto’s political backyard, and asked him to decide whether he is in government or opposition.
“These are behaviours of hired goons and should not be tolerated in a democracy like Kenya. The DP has been touring every part of this Republic without restriction and Senator Moi, in his own right as a leader, deserves the same treatment accorded to him (the DP),” said Murathe.
“Hiring thugs and goons to shout Senator Moi down is unacceptable and the police should thoroughly investigate what happened with the view of apprehending the culprits.”
Murathe called on the DP to rein in on his allies or ship out.
“We cannot allow people playing politics of opposition in Jubilee. The DP has to deal with his troops or ship out instead of even going to the extent of entertaining insults against the first family as was the case in the Coast. If he doesn’t, it will not augur well for him,” he warned.
However, the DP appeared to distance himself from the incident in a tweet posted hours after the occurrence, emphasising on the importance of freedom of association and movement.
“Let’s make this year different and hopeful by protecting our freedoms to association, movement and choice while rejecting negative politics,” he urged without expressly weighing in on what befell the senator and his entourage.
Freedom of movement
He instead thanked God for seeing Kenyans through the difficulties faced last year in the midst of the ravaging pandemic, loss of livelihoods and devastating economic meltdown.
“We all had a difficult 2020 and by God’s grace we survived,” the DP said in a tweet, while wishing Kenyans a Happy New Year.
However, Tiaty MP William Kamket said they were caught unawares by the ambush which seemed to have been politically planned.
“The chairman was honouring the invite of the elders. There was no issue because the visit was no secret. There is nothing to try to hide. They planned for us and we were not prepared. Next time, we will be prepared,” he said.
National Assembly Minority Whip Junet Mohammed termed yesterday’s happening as bad.
“He (the DP) wants to go everywhere in the country but balkanises his home turf. The occurrence brings out the true person of the DP and we should expect worse now that he has brought on board the wheelbarrow party,” he said.
Governor Hassan Joho described what happened as political selfishness and explained: “His hustler narrative is exciting emotions and if not checked will explode. He wants to visit other parts of the country but he is balkanising his backyard. He is making it very difficult for other leaders, and this will destroy the country is not managed.”
Siaya Senator James Orengo said what happened in the DP’s backyard was unfortunate but not surprising as “he thrives on politics of hatred and community balkanisation”.
“He thinks he can lead the country through divide and rule. It is sad for someone who calls himself the Deputy President to practice politics of intolerance,” the Senate leader of minority said.
He cautioned that if Jubilee fails to deal with the politics of the DP now, it might destabilise it from within and it will eventually explode.
“The DP took an oath of office to abide by the principles of the Constitution but his ambitions go contrary. If he is tired, he should call it a day and join his new political outfit but I know he won’t because he thrives in distractions and animosity,” said Orengo.
At the same time, Talai elders condemned the blockade saying they received the news that their guest had been stopped from meeting them, and disowned those responsible.
Samoei, one of the elders, said they had invited Gideon to Kapsisiywo but some people who do not understand freedom of movement and association blocked him.
The youths, he said, were not to blame as they were hired to do the job.
“Some people who do not understand there is democracy in this country decided otherwise. The youths are not to blame and we believe there are faces behind the act,” he said.
Christopher Koyogi, the elder who was to host Gideon, said the youths who barred the senator were not from the Talai community.
He said they will not be cowed and will soon have Gideon in the area to bless him as earlier planned. A month he said will not lapse.
“We were to bless him and make him an elder, we will not be cowed and soon Gideon will be here with us. We condemn the act by the youths,” he said.
Koyogi said they will stand with the senator till he goes State House as president and will not support the Tanga narrative.
He warned that the youth will know no peace until they apologise for their actions. The elders, he said, had done their assessment and were convinced that Gideon was the right man to lead Kenyans. The apple, he said, never falls far from the tree and as the late President Moi was, Gideon will be.
Joel Rono, the chairperson Talai Kapturgat Council of Elders, said they are still looking forward to hosting Gideon.
The decision to bless Gideon and make him elder, he said, was reached after a long consultative meeting with residents from Tugen, Nandi, Keiyo, Mt Elgon, Pokot and Marakwet.
Ruto and Gideon have for long been embroiled in a supremacy political battle over the control of the Rift Valley.
In the recent past, Gideon has raised the political bar after he took the front row seat in spearheading the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) constitutional (Amendment) Bill 2020, holding a series of meetings across the country.
The Kanu chairman has also revamped the independence party in preparation of the 2022 General Election.
Although he is yet to declare his interest in the 2022 race to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta, Gideon has hinted at working with ODM leader Raila Odinga, former Vice Presidents Kalonzo Musyoka and Musalia Mudavadi in uniting Kenyans through amending the 2010 constitution to end the “winner-take-all” arrangement that has been a source of electoral violence every election cycle.