Ruto defends push for strong opposition

The President further reiterated that he has no interest in weakening the opposition through the creation of the Office of the Opposition Leader but his intention is to strengthen it and other oversight bodies.

"We want a strong Parliament and opposition for us to run an accountable administration for effective transformation of our country. I don't fear being corrected or reminded," he said.

Ruto said that his focus was on uniting the country and delivering development to Kenyans and urged Azimio la Umoja One Kenya to ensure peaceful engagement with the public.

The Head of State promised to ensure resumption of the Sh30 billion Mau Mau road project connecting Nyandarua, Nyeri and Murang'a counties. Construction of the road traversing through the Aberdare Ranges was initiated during the last months of former President Uhuru Kenyatta's regime to ease transport between the three counties.

Kenya National Highways Authority cancelled the project in September over concerns by Kenya Wildlife Service and National Environmental Management Authority.

"The Mau Mau Road issue shall be addressed. KWS was looking at their animals, Nema at the environment but we shall construct the road. Do not be disturbed that it stopped," said Ruto.

Ruto tasked Roads Principal Secretary Joseph Mbugua who hails from Nyandarua to ensure the project is given priority as the government strategises on financing.

He explained that his administration was working on a plan to increase revenue collection from the current Sh2 trillion to Sh3 trillion next year and up to Sh5 trillion by the end of his tenure.

"We also have an elaborate plan to ensure Kenya does not face food shortage again. We have fertiliser coming in this month and more in January to step up our food production," he said.

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua said he was ready to work with Mt Kenya leaders who opposed Kenya Kwanza camp during the General Election.

"I will no longer hammer former Governor Francis Kimemia and former Water Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki. I understand they were on the other side out of intimidation they faced from the regime," said Gachagua.

Kimemia, Kariuki, MPs David Kiaraho (Ol Kalou) and Kwenya Thuku (Kinangop) are among Azimio leaders who accompanied Ruto yesterday and pledged to support him.

"This kind of shift will deny opposition leader Raila Odinga people to use in his demonstrations. As we progress, he will not have any, especially from Mt Kenya," said Gachagua.

National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung'wa dismissed claims that the creation of the Office of Opposition Leader was meant to entice Raila into working with the government.

"This is a misconception that Raila is getting a sweet deal. This is a position meant to entrench democracy and ensure meaningful oversight," said Ichung'wah.

Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro urged President Ruto to focus on building the country and ignore those leading protests.