Jubilee Party officials in Nyanza are claiming the heckling of Deputy President William Ruto in Kisumu Wednesday was planned ahead of his tour with President Uhuru Kenyatta in Homa Bay and Kisumu counties.
The local campaign team led by Karachuonyo MP James Rege termed the incident in Kisumu as unfortunate and sad but pointed fingers at politicians from the opposition National Super Alliance (Nasa).
“Heckling of the deputy president was the height of intolerance in a region lagging behind in terms of development,” Mr Rege said.
“It is clear that the DP’s heckling was planned. How come some opposition officials warned him not to accompany the president and these unfortunate incidences occurred?” asked Mr Rege, referring to Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang’ who had earlier said the DP was unwelcome in the region.
While the President generally got a receptive audience from crowds in Homa Bay and Kisumu, his deputy faced a hostile group of youth at the launch of a brewery in Kisumu as he tried to introduce President Kenyatta to speak.
The youth wore Jubilee branded T-shirts handed out to them just before the visit, but they chanted slogans disapproving Mr Ruto even as Jubilee nominated Senator Joy Gwendo and local MP Ken Obura tried to calm them down.
Later, Ms Gwendo told NTV’s Side Bar show that some of the hecklers had infiltrated supporters to attempt to embarrass the Jubilee leaders during the visit.
Mr Rege said he convinced the Head of State to order the tarmacking of the Rusinga Island ring road, establishing of a dry port in Mbita Town and creating of the new Suba Central district during the tour.
But Mr Kajwang’ and ODM national chairman John Mbadi had both separately urged the president to visit the region without his deputy.
Homa Bay County Jubilee coordinator Odhiambo Makowiti said Mr Ruto’s heckling may work against Nasa presidential candidate Raila Odinga who needs votes from regions where his political opponents are enjoying support.
“How will heckling Mr Ruto help Mr Odinga ascend to presidency?” asked Mr Makowiti.
He said supporters of President Kenyatta and his deputy may decide to lock Nasa politicians from “their regions”, which he said is not good for national cohesion.
“Supporters of Mr Kenyatta and his deputy may get angry with how they were treated in Kisumu and decide to retaliate. This is not the kind of politics we want for this country,” said Mr Makowiti.
Jubilee Party candidate for Homa Bay governorship Tom Alila said the president and his deputy are free to campaign in all corners of the country.
“Mr Kenyatta and his deputy are free to campaign anywhere in the country. It is an act of backwardness to heckle any of them,” said Mr Alila.
Mr Alila said the president means well for Nyanza residents since he initiated development projects during his tour.
“The president never came to politick alone, he launched major development initiatives which will in turn change the economic fortunes of this region,” said Mr Alila.