President Uhuru Kenyatta's and ODM leader Raila Odinga’s allies have told off Deputy President William Ruto over threats to stop the ongoing countrywide Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) rallies.
Dr Ruto, while attending a church service at Gatunduri Full Gospel Church in Embu County on Sunday, accused some BBI proponents of inciting tribes against each other.
He claimed that politicians in Mr Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) have been using the rallies to fuel tribal animosity.
“If the reggae which is being witnessed at BBI rallies is about preaching [negative] ethnicity and profiling some communities, then we shall stop it," he said.
President Kenyatta's and Mr Odinga’s allies Monday criticised Dr Ruto over his remarks. The leaders said not all proposals made by regional leaders will be included in the final BBI report.
They said that Dr Ruto has no moral authority to stop the rallies on the basis of sentiments that would not influence the final report.
Cherangany MP Joshua Kutuny claimed the DP has always been against the BBI.
“If he [Dr Ruto] wants to oppose BBI, he has an option of saying yes or no. We are not forcing anyone to subscribe to our school of thought. Only Uhuru and Raila can stop the drive,” said Mr Kutuny.
He said that not all what leaders say will be included in the final BBI report.
“The only way they can stop the reggae is to oppose it. They can oppose the reggae and give us blues or RNB or even Lingala. He (Ruto) can come up with another vibe,” Mr Kutuny said, adding that the DP’s sentiments were “desperate” attempts by the anti-BBI brigade to stop the drive.
Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala and Nyeri Town MP Wambugu Ngunjiri said the DP cannot stop the rallies “because he did not start them.”
“He has no capacity. He has more pressing issues to deal with before he drags himself into the BBI conversation. Let him clear his name in the multiple corruption cases he has been implicated in,” said Mr Malala.
Mr Ngunjiri noted that the Deputy President cannot stop the BBI rallies because he did not start them.
Nominated MP Godfrey Osotsi said the problem with Dr Ruto and his allies is that their BBI catch-up strategy is not working.
“The BBI train has left the station but they are struggling to hang on a fast moving BBI train. All their dirty schemes against BBI have crumbled. They tried to sneak the BBI report to Parliament, it didn’t work. They tried to conduct parallel rallies, it never worked. They tried to introduce Luhya supremacy narrative ahead of Kakamega rally, it never worked,” said Mr Osotsi.
He added: “They then tried to hijack BBI rally in Kitui, it never worked. They tried to cause unnecessary drama in Narok by raising petty issues on language translation issues, it did not work. They are panicking and facing a political catastrophe as evidenced by numerous leaders who are exiting their camp to join BBI train.”
The ANC nominated MP said Dr Ruto should be bold enough to oppose BBI instead of sending mixed signals that are contradicting his boss President Kenyatta.
“They can't also purport to support BBI while at the same time belittling the handshake. The handshake and BBI are intertwined. Incessant attacks on Raila are a direct attack on Uhuru and his government,” added Mr Osotsi.
MPs Chris Omulele (Luanda), Florence Mutua (Busia County) and Elisha Odhiambo (Gem) said the BBI train had taken off and only the two principals -- President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga -- with the support of Kenyans can stop it.
“The Deputy President should wake up and smell the coffee. BBI is bigger than him. It is a national re-evaluation of our ethics, cohesion and aspirations,” Mr Omulele said.
He added: “It was mooted by the President and Mr Odinga on behalf of Kenyans and the DP does not need to be reminded of this.”
“If the DP imagines that the BBI is about him and his personal ambitions, he has missed the train by a mile. He will, therefore, not be available to dance to music he can't hear or understand because he will simply have failed to attend the party,” added Mr Omulele.
Ms Mutua said that “in as much as I personally don’t support any tribal whipping and incitement, it is also wrong to use what one leader said to try and blame it on BBI.”
“No one will stop reggae and the DP and his supporters should come to the BBI meetings and air their views too,” Ms Mutua said.
Gem MP Elisha Odhiambo cautioned Dr Ruto against issuing threats over the BBI drive.
“Let him stop his threats and pettiness. No one can stop a mass movement,” said Mr Odhiambo.
On Sunday, Dr Ruto told leaders, whom he did not name, that Kenya is a God-fearing nation and that a few self-centred people will not be allowed to plunge it into political turmoil.
“When the leaders spoke at Narok's BBI rally, they spoke of dividing Kenyans. As the government, this is not what we want."
He stressed that the BBI is meant to unite Kenyans, not divide them.
After violence was witnessed at the BBI rally in Kitui County, DP Ruto noted that this is not the way to approach the debate.
He said bridges cannot be built with violence and that each person has a right to be heard as the BBI matter concerns all Kenyans.