Allies of Deputy President William Ruto have alleged a state plot to scuttle meetings by the DP’s team to confine them to the Rift Valley region as part of schemes to derail his 2022 State House bid.

The leaders cited the recent disruption of town hall meetings in Meru, Kiambu, Tharaka Nithi and Mombasa —by the DP-linked United Democratic Alliance (UDA), as well as other affiliate parties — as part of what they said was the police being used for political purposes.

Nandi senator Samson Cherargei deduced that the aim of the disruptions might be to portray the DP as only welcomed in his Rift Valley turf, a plot he said will fail.

“There is myopic, undemocratic thinking in Kenya of taking us back to the era of regional kingpins confined to the region they come from, and their small, village parties. We saw these in the recent by-elections in western and Ukambani. This attempt to disrupt UDA meetings will fail. It only shows that the hustler message has resonated with the people, and Kenyans know better. They want national parties based on ideology,” Mr Cherargei, a Ruto ally, said. 

While the police that disrupted the two meetings cited Covid-19 containment measures, the DP’s team pointed out politicians allied to President Uhuru Kenyatta being allowed to hold rallies, while their disrupted town hall meetings involved only a few individuals, and adhered to the requirement for gatherings to be less than 100 people, with enough physical distance between them.

UDA chairman Johnson Muthama, who was part of the Coast meeting disrupted on Friday, yesterday said the government was applying dictatorial tactics in dealing with the DP’s allies.

“Politicians seen to be leaning towards the government are given a free hand to hold rallies, no social distance and no masks. But those allied to the DP meet in town halls with their aspirants, the government wakes up, and realizes that coronavirus is still there. Their biggest fear, we know, is how the country has received the DP, with no coercion, no coaching,” Mr Muthama, the former Machakos senator said.

Looming violence

Mr Muthama said the meetings with the party’s aspirants, which he called strategic meetings guaranteed by the Constitution, will continue, even with the looming violence by the police.

“The DP now commands about 60 to 70 per cent of the vote, across all regions. You see how he was received in Kisumu. My advice to our opponents is to get used to it, and practice democratic principles of letting us have our constitutional right to associate and belong. What is going on is dangerous. The President is leaning towards one side, and punishing all that do not agree with him. That is not democracy. Now, he (the President) is dismantling the Constitution and is now at war with the people of Kenya,” said Mr Muthama. 

Murang’a senator Irungu Kang’ata — who lost his Senate Majority whip post because of his association with the DP — fingered Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i and his Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho for the disruptions.

“Persons heading the institutions of the Police and the Interior ministry are doing no good to the President. Their unfair actions explain the unpopularity of Jubilee government in Mt Kenya region. They have helped bury Jubilee in all by-elections in the region as the people can see this injustice,” Mr Kang’ata said.

The intimidations, the Murang’a senator insisted, had no chance to stop the Ruto wave in Mt Kenya or across the country. 

“When history will be written on what made Jubilee unpopular in the President’s own backyard, the police and Interior ministry will get a whole chapter,” Mr Kang’ata said.

Belgut MP Nelson Koech, accused unnamed persons in the Provincial Administration that he said were misusing the police “for their own political ends”.

“There is a real fear that UDA is doing what Jubilee Party and other parties that are ethnic enclaves have failed to do, which is carry out a nationwide member registration drive in preparation for the democratic election of party officials. The attempts by rogue elements of the State to harass UDA officials and members is against the law as the party has the right to hold meetings and recruit members across the country,” Mr Koech said.

Impeachment bid

Arguing that the Constitution allowed them the right to hold the meetings they do — in strict compliance with Covid-19 protocols, Mr Koech said the Ruto wave was an idea whose time has come.

“No one can stop an idea whose time has come. The attempts to frustrate legal and democratic activities of UDA are doomed to fail. Nobody tear-gassed super-spreader meetings in Nyanza last week, so why harass UDA members who are adhering to Covid-19 protocols?” he asked.

Last month, Mr Koech asked his colleagues in Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) to back an impeachment bid against Dr Matiang’i. 

While the ouster motion failed to get the traction it needed to pick up pace, the Belgut MP had laid down what he said was constant abuse of the police, boosted by a hard-hitting statement by Mr Odinga condemning what he also said was misuse of police in the Bonchari and Juja parliamentary by-elections last month.

“What we have witnessed in the by-elections in Bonchari and Juja is an abuse of police powers and an arrogant display of impunity by a few overzealous and bellicose government functionaries,” Mr Odinga said then, saying some unnamed persons were using the police force as an avenue “pursue imaginary and short-legged political interests”.

The ODM leader said the police should serve the interests of the people, and not those of a few who were out to conduct political experiments with by-elections. 

“The peaceful co-existence post-2018 must not be taken for granted by some rogue elements wanting to confuse the Handshake for an excuse to erode our hard-earned liberties! This must stop!” Mr Odinga said, referring to the March 2018 truce between him and President Kenyatta, which altered Kenya’s political landscape.

By Nation Africa