Deputy President William Ruto has warned Rift Valley leaders against making inciting remarks saying this could undermine Jubilee administration’s efforts to unite Kenyans.
On Tuesday night, the DP held a two-hour closed-door meeting with all the Jubilee candidates from Uasin Gishu, Nandi and Elgeyo-Marakwet counties at Boma Hotel in Eldoret Town where he spoke firmly against leaders fuelling tension in the region ahead of the August polls.
The meeting was called following remarks by Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago and MPs Alfred Keter (Nandi Hills) and Kapseret counterpart Oscar Sudi last Friday which were considered to be meant to incite people.
The three were reported to have threatened to ask their supporters to vote for the opposition if the Jubilee leaders did not speak openly against Mr Mandago’s fierce rival, Mr Bundotich Kiprotich Zedekiah Buzeki, an independent candidate.
Mr Ruto is said to have cautioned leaders from the region against making reckless remarks likely to breach peace in the area ahead of the August 8 polls.
He is said to have been particular about the conduct of politicians from Uasin Gishu County.
“Leaders must be leaders in all aspects. We do not expect divisive remarks from any person calling themselves a leader. I come from Uasin Gishu and you must respect that. You cannot go around talking as if you are not leaders. You should be good examples,” the DP told them.
Sources who attended the meeting said the DP was not happy with the way some leaders were conducting themselves although he did not name anyone in particular.
“Uasin Gishu County being his home, the DP advised us to be careful with our statements as it may be considered his position. He stressed the need for us to work together for the good of the party irrespective of our ideological differences,” a source who attended the meeting told Nation.
Mr Ruto’s home is in Turbo Constituency in Uasin Gishu.
During the last Jubilee nominations, voters picked Mr Steve Okwara to fly the party’s flag in the coming elections.
Uasin Gishu governorship has been a hot issue following claims that most of the Mr Ruto’s aides are behind Mr Buzeki’s candidature.
However, during the Tuesday meeting, Mr Ruto is said to have spoken openly about his stand on independent candidates in the region, considered a Jubilee stronghold.
“The DP assured us that the party has no room for independent candidates. Basically the meeting was meant to bring all the dissenting voices together,” said another source who was in the meeting.
The DP is also said to have used the opportunity to drum up support for President Uhuru Kenyatta and tasked the candidates to work day and night to sell the Jubilee agenda and ask voters to turn out in large numbers during election day.
The President is expected in the region on Thursday, Friday and Saturday in an extensive tour of Trans Nzoia, Uasin Gishu and Bungoma counties.
Mr Mandago, Mr Sudi and Mr Keter have been put on the spot for alleged continuous reckless statements targeting supporters of Mr Buzeki.
However, Mr Mandago’s office sought to exonerate the governor from the accusations.
Mr Silas Tarus, who is in charge of the governor’s communication unit, said that the statements made by his boss had been taken out of context.
“People are twisting the statement to gain political mileage. What the leaders meant is that those leaders who were nominated on a Jubilee ticket should support (other) leaders on the party’s ticket. Nobody threatened any particular community,” Mr Tarus told Nation.