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ODM vows to punish hecklers who embarrassed Raila

Saturday May 18 2019

Raila hecklers

Protesters react during a function that ODM leader Raila Odinga attended with three ministers at Ombeyi in Muhoroni, Kisumu County, on May 13, 2019. PHOTO | ONDARI OGEGA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

RUSHDIE OUDIA
By RUSHDIE OUDIA
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The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) is carrying out investigations to find the person behind the Monday heckling of party leader Raila Odinga at Ombei in Muhoroni, Kisumu County.

The party condemned the incident and threatened thorough disciplinary action against the culprit, if found to be a leader elected on its ticket.

The heckling took place as Mr Odinga and Cabinet Secretaries James Macharia (Transport), Peter Munya (Trade) and John Munyes (Petroleum) on a tour of the proposed site for the Special Economic Zone.

A group of people caused a scene by waving placards, shouting and saying they preferred retaining their land to the proposed industrial park.

WHAT HAPPENED

Mr Odinga had said the economic zone would be a blessing to the people of Kisumu in terms of creation of job opportunities and opportunities for investments.

This left a section of the crowd displeased and resulted in accusations that the county was grabbing their land without consulting them.

The protesters were beaten up and their placards torn even as Mr Odinga appealed for them not to be manhandled.

The ODM leader later told the media that the youths were sponsored to disrupt the meeting but maintained that the SEZ project would continue amid efforts to resolve land ownership issues.

WELL-KNOWN

Prof Ayiecho Olweny, Kisumu County's ODM Chairman, claimed the protesters were well-known people from Muhoroni but that they were not members of the Sidho clan, which has laid claim on the land.

"They were seen being given placards from a car before the event started. We won't let the matter fade away without getting the culprits," said Mr Olweny.

He also condemned local leaders for boycotting the function. Only Deputy Governor Mathews Owili, Nominated Senator Rose Nyamunga, Nyando MP Jared Okello and Rarieda's Otiende Amollo attended.

Prof Olweny said they were in support of the SEZ project and that they wanted it to begin immediately.

"We cannot lag behind every day because we reject every development project brought to us," he said.

'NAYSAYERS'

Governor Nyong'o was in Denmark while area MP Onyango K'Oyoo was on a parliamentary committee tour of Botswana.

The two lashed out at residents "for rejecting development" and maintained that the Ombei incident was pre-arranged.

“It is regrettable that a small band of engineered naysayers who deliberately decided to resist development in the county as a whole, purely for political mileage, decided to embarrass our guests,” said Prof Nyong’o.

He further described them as a "visionless people".

Mr K’Oyoo wondered why top ODM officials did not take action when the incident took place.

“This is regrettable and should not have happened, especially not to our party leader. We condemn this in the strongest words possible,” he said.

Mr Festus Achilla, the county's ODM treasurer, said police should have made arrests since the chaos took place in their presence.