Supporters of Deputy President William Ruto and Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto clashed over calls for a referendum at a function attended by the two leaders. The rival camps turned the church fundraiser at Marinyin Catholic Church in Bomet Central into a shouting match just after Kericho Senator Charles Keter took to the stage.
Keter and four other senators had led 12 MPs in dismissing calls for a referendum by the Council of Governors headed by the Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto. At one point, the visibly angry governor told off security officers who were trying to push his supporters. He threatened that the meeting would abort if the officers continued roughing up his backers.
When he took to the podium, Deputy President Ruto lashed out at CORD leader Raila Odinga, accusing him of pushing for a referendum to remain politically relevant. He claimed that the governors’ Pesa Mashinani campaign was a brainchild of the ruling Jubilee Coalition before it was ‘hijacked’ by the opposition. “We are committed to increasing allocation gradually to the counties and governors should not mistake it to mean that we are anti-devolution,” DP Ruto said.
The DP called for mutual respect among all elected leaders and insisted that accountability is a must for all public officers including the governors. “Accountability is not negotiable. It is mandatory and every one of us must be answerable for funds that we are given to spend,” the DP added. He added that the biggest threat to devolution is mismanagement, theft, corruption and leaders who do not want to be held accountable, noting that the three issues being fronted by CORD do not justify a referendum.
“Raila presided over the sale of land when they (CORD) were in power. Now that they are facing oblivion, they are agitating for a referendum as a way of remaining relevant,” the DP claimed. He asked Jubilee leaders to unite and concentrate on serving Kenyans. But Governor Ruto accused MPs and senators of lying to Kenyans and resorting to threats instead of embracing dialogue. “As governors, we have been asking what the people on the ground are telling us.
This should not be taken to mean that we have personal differences with the Deputy President,” he said. The Bomet County boss said if Jubilee is serious about devolution, then it should stop taking governors round in circles and immediately implement what they have agreed on. “We need to think seriously as a nation and stop trying to portray governors as supporting CORD. We are in Jubilee and will continue pushing for referendum if the Government will not tell Kenyans the truth about the percentage they allocated the counties,” Ruto added.
When the Bomet Governor took to the stand, he demanded that every leader must show respect to ideologies and positions of others and avoid using derogatory language when advancing their agendas. “If you want us to end this meeting, continue with such disrespectful language,” warned the governor. He added: “I have no grudge or personal differences with the DP and remember I am a member of Jubilee and not CORD as some of the leaders who have spoken may want people to think. I am only expressing what Kenyans are facing and a possible solution to it, which is a referendum.”