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Police teargas Ruto's allies, block meeting parallel to BBI rally

Saturday January 18 2020

Ruto's allies teargassed in Mumias

Police fire tear gas in Mumias, Kakamega County, to prevent a meeting by politicians allied to Deputy President William Ruto, as a BBI rally takes place at Bukhungu Stadium, January 18, 2020. PHOTO | TONNY OMONDI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

DERICK LUVEGA
By DERICK LUVEGA
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SHABAN MAKOKHA
By SHABAN MAKOKHA
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Running battles were the order of the day in Mumias, Kakamega County, on Saturday, as Deputy President William Ruto's allies attempted to hold a gathering parallel to a grand BBI meeting.

They politicians included MPs Justus Murunga (Matungu), John Waluke (Sirisia), Didmus Barasa (Kiminini), Dan Wanyama (Webuye West) and Charles Gimose (Hamisi).

Former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale and former Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa joined them.

The politicians were to hold their meeting at Nabongo Grounds in Mumias, but police cordoned off the area, as key leaders attended the Building Bridge Initiative rally at Bukhungu Stadium.

Police officers follow western Kenya leaders
Police officers follow western Kenya leaders allied to DP William Ruto to block them from holding a rally in Mumias, parallel to the BBI meeting taking place at Bukhungu Stadium in Kakamega County. PHOTO | TONNY OMONDI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

WASHIALI 'MISSING'

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Police fired tear gas at the politicians and their supporters at Ekero and Shibale, preventing them from speaking.

The politicians had just condemned police over the alleged disappearance of Mumias East MP Benjamin Washiali.

Following the allegation that the MP was missing, his colleagues went to Shianda Police Station to demand an explanation.

Mr Waluke said, "Our chief whip has been missing and cannot be found on phone. We are here to ask police to tell us about his whereabouts."

Mr Barasa blamed planners of the Bukhungu meeting, saying they threatened to place leaders opposed to the event under house arrest.

Mr Murunga said: "We have tried to reach him but his phone is not going through [sic]. We demand that Washiali be brought to us alive. We suspect leaders behind the BBI meeting are behind the disappearance."

Tear gas fired by police in Mumias, Kakamega
Tear gas fired by police in Mumias, Kakamega County, to prevent a meeting by politicians allied to Deputy President William Ruto, as a BBI rally takes place at Bukhungu Stadium, January 18, 2020. PHOTO | TONNY OMONDI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

RALLY PUSHED

After a roadside gathering was dispersed at Ekero, the politicians fled to Shibale market but police followed them there.

At River Nzoia bridge, between Ekero and Shibale, police were forced to put out a fire lit on a road.

They lobbed more tear gas canisters at Shibale market and searched through the shopping centre, forcing the leaders to scamper for safety.

They dispersed the crowd as Mr Echesa, who hails from Shibale, spoke.

As the running battles continued, the politicians decided to push their rally to next weekend.

Mr Murunga said they did so to show they are not cowards.

Former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale addresses
Former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale addresses residents of Mumias, Kakamega County, on January 18, 2020, as a BBI rally takes place at Bukhungu Stadium. PHOTO | TONNY OMONDI | NATION MEDIA GROUP