Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga on Sunday scoffed at Deputy President William Ruto’s claims that the party was responsible for violence during the Kibra by-election, as the war of words between them, linked to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s 2022 succession battle, escalated.
During a public rally at the DC grounds in Kibra where he had led MP-elect Imran Okoth in a lap of honour, the former prime minister used imagery to portray Mr Ruto as a bat and a politician who is always on the side that favours him.
“A long time ago, the bat used to deceive other animals. While with the birds, it said it could fly and perch. It was welcomed and given food. When it went back to other animals, it told them it was one of them because it had ears and teeth. It was similarly welcomed. But, at last, both the birds and the animals realised his deception and that was its end,” Mr Odinga said.
Mr Odinga spoke on a day he and his party braved three days of sustained attacks from the DP, who took to Twitter to portray Mr Odinga as a merchant of violence operating a criminal gang in the constituency.
The Deputy President had on Sunday morning challenged the former prime minister to end violence in Kibra and disband his “militia” as a commitment to his handshake deal with the President.
He tweeted: “President Kenyatta & I decided that PEV (post-election violence) that had become synonymous with elections since 1992 MUST come to an END and it did. Tinga MUST bring ODM’s primitive & retrogressive signature culture of violence/chaos to an END & disband baba’s militia to show their commitment to handshake.”
Mr Odinga did not directly respond to the accusation in Kibra yesterday, but in a statement released earlier, ODM questioned the DP’s interest in the city constituency. He claimed the DP had entered a candidate in the poll to divide Kenyans along ethnic, regional and party lines using money and lies.
“Ruto thrives in chaos and division. He does not know how to lead a united and peaceful nation. He thrives on inventing enemies and proceeding to mobilise paid sycophants to fight those enemies,” the statement said, adding that it was the DP who should apologise for the chaos.
It was signed by National Assembly Minority Whip Junet Mohamed and Makadara MP George Aladwa.
The party cited an incident in Kilifi County where Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa invaded the home of ODM candidate Reuben Katana on the eve of the Ganda Ward by-election and instigated a fracas that led to the killing of Mr Katana’s uncle.
“Mr Ruto made sure the Ganda by-election not only turned violent and chaotic but also ended with the fatal shooting of one resident. His person in that contest, Ms Aisha Jumwa, is in court over the matter. In the end, Ruto lost Ganda to ODM but his team left the people of Ganda in pain and tears.”
ODM said the DP had employed the same tactics in Kibra, promising to teach the party and its leader a lesson through what they referred to as voter bribery, fearmongering, lies, anger and violence.
“Mr Ruto has neither condemned nor acknowledged the violence and death his team caused in Ganda, or the chaos and voter bribery his people were captured participating in [in] Kibra.”
In Kibra, the Kieleweke faction in the ruling Jubilee Party, whose members accompanied Mr Odinga, vowed never to apologise over the mayhem in Kibra and instead reminded the DP of the January 1, 2008 Kiambaa church killings, where people who had sought shelter in a church were burnt to death.
They also talked of the 2016 incident where pupils of Lang'ata Road Primary School were tear-gassed and the gruesome murder of a former technology manager at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), Mr Chris Msando.
Mr Mohamed dismissed claims that a militia linked to Mr Odinga exists, and said, the party will never apologise to the Deputy President.
And, in an apparent show of might, Mr Odinga brought with him top politicians from across the political divide, signalling a major realignment ahead of the 2022 poll.
Additional reporting by Justus Ochieng