President William Ruto locked horns with Opposition leader Raila Odinga yesterday in what could define the trajectory of Kenya's politics for the next few years.
For the second day, Raila faulted the Ruto administration, harping on the high cost of living, with the President answering him on his demand for Scotland Yard to independently investigate extrajudicial killings.
And in Parliament, Ruto's troops rallied behind their boss, underscoring the government's resolve to run government affairs their own way.
"I'm clear in my mind that we do not need advice from Scotland Yard to disband a murderous unit in our police force. We do not need advice from anywhere. We just need to respect our Constitution and do the right thing,” said Ruto at Friday's launch of the Judiciary's annual report in Nairobi.
According to Ruto, the solution to extra-judicial killings is empowering the Independent Police Oversight Authority (IPOA) and other agencies to kick out rogue police officers and promote the rule of law.
“We will support our security agencies to take up their mandate to protect and safeguard the sovereignty and the security of our country and we will work with them to eliminate crooks and sections that work against the Constitution and the law," he said.
On Thursday, Raila called for an independent and expanded probe into extrajudicial killings, beyond the matter involving the disappearance of two Indian nationals Mohamed Zaid and Zulfiqar Khan, and their Kenyan driver Nicodemus Mwania.
Already nine officers of the disbanded Directorate of Criminal Investigations, Special Service Unit have been arraigned before the Kahawa Magistrate’s court over the missing three. The State wants to detain them for 30 days.
“We are concerned about the so-called probe into extra judicial killings which has turned into a witchhunt against the former DCI boss (George Kinoti) and few police officers,” said Raila.
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Yesterday, Ruto said he will not relent in ensuring the police act professionally. He claimed Scotland Yard is a product of belief in rule of law and independent institutions.
"Supporting a professional police force will guarantee the lives of every Kenyan and their security and we will get rid of extra-judicial killings. We certainly do not need the support of institutions build by others. We can build our own institutions," he said.
On Raila's earlier threat to mobilise revolt against his taxation and social security measures, Ruto said he will not relent. If anything, he said he wants the Judiciary (see separate story) to fall in line with Parliament and the Executive to support him.
“I want to tell those in the Opposition, who were against our plans that they should know there are no two ways about increment. They have been asking us to borrow funds externally but our government is not ready for that,” he said.
As Ruto was responding in Nairobi, Raila was digging in on tax increment, saying Kenyans will not accept additional measures to burden them. He spoke in Homa Bay during the opening of Kigoto Maize mill. He was reacting to Ruto's new targets to Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) to double tax collection by the end of his first term in 2027.
“There is a problem with revenue collection. I have told him that we will reject any attempts by the government to increase tax to the people,” said Raila, urging the government to seal loopholes for theft instead.
He criticized Ruto’s recent appointments to the Cabinet, claiming some regions were sidelined by the new administration. During the visit to Homa Bay, Raila also moved to clear doubts that their coalition was weakening and claimed it was intact and ready to keep Ruto in check.
In Nairobi, Ruto's Kenya Kwanza MPs accused Raila of condoning extrajudicial killings.
“What is selective and vindictive about disbanding a police unit responsible for forced disappearances and extra-judicial killings of Kenyans...are you saying there were no killings?” posed National Assembly majority leader Kimani Ichungwa.
The lawmakers, at a press conference at Parliament Buildings, urged State institutions charged with investigations to discharge their mandate without fear or favour and bring whoever was found culpable to book.
“…never again should we be collecting bodies in River Yala, Kilimambogo, Aberdare and other forests across this country. The sanctity of life should be respected and remain paramount,” they said.
The MPs were irked by Raila's claim that he worked well with President Mwai Kibaki to restore a battered economy without breaking Kenyan's backs.
“The Azimio leader should relax and watch how we are fixing this nation bit by bit. You can’t be responsible for destroying our country then turn around and start issuing ultimatums,” said Ichungwa.
Raila troops fired back, vowing to deliver on their mandate to the electorate.
ODM chairman John Mbadi said Ruto stop excuses and start delivering to the people of Kenya. Mbadi claimed some sectors are on the verge of collapse and cited the criminal justice system as one of the areas that have come under a sharp focus.
“Let Ruto work. We do not want any excuses,” said Mbadi. Governor Gladys Wanga praised Raila for supporting devolution and claimed his efforts is the reason devolution had taken shape across the country.
MPs Caroli Omondi (Suba South), Ongondo Were (Kasipul), Lilian Gogo (Rangwe) and Eve Obara (Kabondo Kasipul) urged Azimio supporters to remain united.
They claimed Nyanza will remain united behind Raila and dismissed those criticising the ODM leader as attention seekers.
“We are going to ensure we continue working with Raila,” said Gogo.
Among those that have been calling for a radical shift in Nyanza politics are former Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero, former MPs Olago Aluoch (Kisumu West), former Kisumu Senator Fred Outa and Ugenya MP David Ochieng among others.
In Gusii region, the ODM leader has lost a number of allies, including former Kisii Governor James Ongwae who was a major force in mobilizing support for him.
Reports by Harold Odhiambo, James Omoro, John Muthoni and Josephat Thiong'o