Heckling mars President's tour in Bomet

President William Ruto interacts with Vicky Chepkorir a casual worker during the inspection of the ongoing construction of the 220 affordable housing units in Bomet County. [PCS]

President William Ruto’s development tour in Bomet County yesterday was marred by heckling as political rivalries pitting local leaders played out.

President Ruto, who was in the county to preside over the launch of several projects, was caught up in the political drama at times forcing him to intervene and reprimand local leaders over the contest, saying it was derailing development.

Ruto said he was ashamed that every time he visits the county, his presence is used as a forum to settle local political scores.

“This local political contest during my visits in Bomet is foolish and must stop. It is time to roll out development and political competition must wait for the next elections,” he said.

The president said it was wrong for leaders to wage continuous political wars that have proved counterproductive for development in the region.

A visibly irritated president said leaders fanning such chaos are harming development and leaving dozens of youth with injuries and should never be elected to any office.

“The leaders behind all this shouting should be voted out and I will not hesitate to tell electorates to get rid of such leaders so that we get a peaceful environment to serve the people of this country,” added Ruto.

The president encountered similar heckling in Kericho where residents also voiced their frustrations against their elected leaders.

And yesterday, the script was the same in Bomet as residents turned their attention on Governor Hillary Barchok in front of the president.

Ruto said leaders should channel their energies to development and leave politics and contest for the election period.

“This is the time to show electorates what you can through rolling out of development programs and not flexing political muscles through such schemes where youth are paid or fed with alcohol to shout down other leaders,” Ruto said.

The president said he was afraid if the trend continues local will have nothing to show for waking up in the morning to go and queue and cast their vote. At the same time, Ruto asked residents to restrain themselves and avoid being used to wage political wars.

“Our good people of Bomet, you have played your part in electing these leaders into the office do not allow yourselves to be used to shout in public. Draw a scorecard for every leader that you voted for and judge them through the next election,” The president added.

Ruto was in the company of his Deputy Rigathi Gachagua who shared his sentiments and challenged leaders to stop using presidential tours to weigh their political strengths.

Gachagua said residents were losing a chance to request for development projects when the President’s intention is diverted to address chaos and local political contests.

Supporters of Bomet Governor Barchok and Senator Hillary Sigei engaged in shouting competition and disrupting speeches during the tour.

Bomet Governor was the first victim at Kapkession in Chepalungu when he was forced to cut short his speech after the youth shouted him down.

Barchok’s attempts to carry on with his speech became futile despite intervention by President Ruto whose plea to be allowed to continue fell on deaf ears.

It was only at Chemamul in Bomet East where President Ruto launched last-mile connectivity for more than 600 households where leaders made their speeches without being disrupted.

Bomet town was the height of the drama when Governor Barchok was heckled for the second time prompting his supporters to intervene by cheering him on.

The governor’s speech was barely audible as his supporters engaged youth who were trying to force him to cut short his speech in shouting matches.

Leaders of Majority Kimani Ichung’wah (National Assembly) and Aaron Cheruiyot (Senate) led legislatures who accompanied the President, among them Konoion MP Brighton Yegon, Richard Kilel (Bomet Central), and Richard Yegon (Bomet East), among others.