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Chaos erupts over Malala remarks at Serut burial

Police officers cool down rowdy youth who engaged their political rival groups in a fight during the burial service of former Mt. Elgon Mp John Bomet Serut held at Kapsokwony high school in Mt. Elgon on March 5, 2022. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

Chaos erupted at the burial of former Mt Elgon MP John Serut after Azimio la Umoja and Kenya Kwanza Alliance leaders clashed.

Trouble started after Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala told the mourners that all Azimio la Umoja leaders in Western will not contest in August polls and that even Bungoma Governor Wycliffe Wangamati has already been defeated.

Malala drummed up support for Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka to recapture the Bungoma governor’s seat saying he has no opponent.

The statement angered Azimio la Umoja supporters as they demanded Malala to leave for disrespecting their leader.

The youth brought the burial programme to a halt with supporters engaging in fistfights and Malala hid among fellow leaders as angry youth looked for him.

Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang'ula tried to calm down the situation for almost 20 minutes as the fracas escalated with funeral service being disrupted for half an hour.

The police had to shoot in the to disperse the rowdy youth who hung on one of the helicopters belonging to Kenya Kwanza Alliance leaders while looking for Malala.

Earlier, Kabuchai MP Majimbo Kalasinga urged locals to vote out Wangamati.

Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi said Lusaka had sent his greetings and urged them to vote him as the next governor.

The sharp division between Azimio la Umoja and Kenya Kwanza leaders was evident from the start when they sat on different sides.

After the chaos, church leaders warned the other speakers against politicking.

Kenya Kwanza MPs drummed up support for the alliance and downplayed Friday’s Azimio la Umoja rally in Bungoma that was led by ODM leader Raila Odinga.

However, other political leaders eulogised Serut as a true and bold leader who had the interest of his people at heart.

Wetangula condemned the chaos and leaders who hire goons to heckle their competitors. The Kenya Kwanza Alliance leaders all left after addressing the mourners while the burial service was still going on.

Area MP Fred Kapondi also condemned the chaos, urging leaders to flex their political muscles in political rallies and not in funerals.

Kapondi described Serut as a leader who put his people first and true fighter.

Wangamati too, condemned the chaos. "As we approach the electioneering period, leaders should preach and promote peace. Our differences and tongues should not create animosity and violence," said Wangamati.

"Politics come and go. We should ensure life continues beyond elections so that our people should live in peace. Divisive politics and heckling have no chance in our current times. Let's sell our agenda to the people."

He eulogized Serut as a true friend and leader who meant well for his people.

Serut's family, led by his widow Pamela Serut, termed the ex-MP as a disciplined and orderly leader. She urged leaders to be selfless and serve their people without chest-thumping.

“He loved his family and the people at large, leaders should be strong and resilient in serving people. My husband battled with cancer for five years without giving up, though he was neglected by people who used to work with him when he was still a legislator,” she said.

Serut was first elected as MP for Mount Elgon constituency in 2002 and was an Assistant Minister for Planning and National Development from 2007 to 2013.

He is survived by his wife, five children and three grandchildren. He was 67.

He was buried at his home in Kapswokony, Mt Elgon Constituency, Bungoma County.