Uhuru Kenyatta unveils projects in Nyanza as William Ruto is heckled

President Uhuru Kenyatta addresses a crowd at Mbita in Homa Bay County, where he commissioned the Mbita-Rusinga causeway on Wednesday. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

President Uhuru Kenyatta unveiled four key projects in Nyanza and called for peaceful campaigns even as his deputy William Ruto faced hostility in the Opposition stronghold.

The President commissioned Sh1.5 billion Mbita-Rusinga Island bridge, Sh18 billion Ahero-Kisii-Isebania road funded by the African Development Bank, Sh15 billion Kenya Breweries beer plant and a new oil jetty along the shores of Lake Victoria.

Uhuru was on a half-day tour of Nyanza, where National Super Alliance presidential candidate Raila Odinga enjoys massive support.

The President also said the Government was working hard to resolve the row over Migingo Island, saying the tiny island on Lake Victoria belonged to Kenya despite ownership claims by Uganda.

Unwelcome guest

Uhuru, who received a warm welcome, called for tolerance and peaceful campaigns, cautioning Kenyans against political violence.

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But Ruto was an unwelcome guest during the functions as he was heckled by crowds who only appeared interested in President Kenyatta’s speeches.

At Mbita, Ahero and Kisumu, the Deputy President had to cut short his speeches after he was heckled. “HatutakiRuto! Ruto must go,” the crowds chanted.

Local Jubilee leaders, including nominated Senator Joy Gwendo and Karachuonyo MP James Rege, were also booed.

Local Opposition leaders kept off the President’s functions.

Last week, Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang asked Uhuru not to allow Ruto to accompany him on the Nyanza trip.

But Wednesday, Ruto remained defiant and tried to address the crowd at Mbita despite the hostility.

Ruto told off Kajwang’ over his comments, saying he had no mandate to stop him from visiting any part of the country.

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“Let Kajwang’ know that I have campaigned for Raila more than he has done. Let him stop making noise,” said Ruto.

As opposed to his usual scathing attacks on the NASA leaders in his previous campaign rallies, Uhuru who addressed various rallies in Kisumu County, instead dwelt on messages of peace and unity ahead of the polls, saying the country was bigger than individuals.

The President said even though he recognised the area as an Opposition zone, he had the right to ask for votes as any other Kenyan, adding that he was ready to accept election results, and that his competitors should do the same.

He addressed rallies at Ahero Town, Kisumu Main Bus Terminus, Kenya Breweries Ltd and at Pipeline, promising to visit the region again before the August 8 election.

In Ahero town, the President got a thunderous reception where he launched the construction of the Ahero-Katito-Sondu-Chabera-Oyugis-Kisii-Isibania highway.

A few minutes to 1pm, the President, who had spent the better part of the morning in Homa Bay County, landed at Ahero accompanied by his deputy Ruto, Cabinet aecretaries Amina Mohammed (Foreign Affairs), Rachel Omamo (Defence) and Charles Keter (Energy). Also present were Kisumu Central MP Ken Obura, Karachuonyo MP James Rege, Jubilee Party Secretary General Raphael Tuju, and Ms Gwendo.

Earlier, while speaking in Mbita, President Kenyatta promised to construct roads on Mfangano and Rusinga islands.

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[Reports by Kevine Omollo, James Omoro and Harold Odhiambo]

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