Nairobi — President William Ruto on Sunday said he will not engage “anarchists” but he is ready for talks with leaders keen on national development.
Speaking in Nandi County during an interdenominational church service, the Head of State told off opposition leader Raila Odinga whom he accused of seeking to hold the country at ransom for his own political interests.
“I am ready to engage with any leader if we are discussing the future of our country, the destination of our nation in a constitutional and legal manner. But we are not going to engage in anarchy,” President Ruto said.
“You will not threaten us with ultimatums, chaos and violence. We will be rewarding impunity if we were to succumb to ultimatums and chaos. We will not,” he asserted.
President Ruto stated that Odinga had no genuine reasons to call for demonstrations.
He said the Azimio leader was only seeking for a political deal with the current administration through chaos and mayhem.
“Raila Odinga has no reason whatsoever to terrorize the country with chaos, demonstrations and violence. He has absolutely no reason. I have tried to listen to him he has none,” said President Ruto.
“He is telling us that he does not believe in Supreme Court, he does not believe in IEBC but he believes in a [faceless] whistleblower and that is why he wants to terrorize the country with chaos and violence.”
The President was accompanied by other government officials including Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, Prime Cabinet Secretary Musallia Mudavadi and Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen.
The leaders called on President Ruto to crack the whip on those who will stage unlawful demonstrations that will lead to destruction of property.
“I know this old man is trying to force a handshake with our President. He has done that since 1997. Now he wants to do the same. We will not allow him,” Gachagua said.
“Mr President please do not let this man intimidate you in any way, form or shape,” he asserted.
Other leaders included National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wa who urged President Ruto to exercise his authority without fear .
“You must exercise your authority without fear, favoritism or ill will and you must obey our Constitution. You cannot be asked to do that which is against our constitution and the laws of this Nation,” said Ichung’wa.
Odinga, who has refused to acknowledge Ruto’s presidency, has remained adamant on his push for demonstrations set for Monday.
The planned protest on Monday is an escalation of civil disobedience after Ruto declined to yield to a 14-day ultimatum to freeze the recruitment of new commissioners to the electoral agency, IEBC.
Change of tune
Odinga Sunday changed tune on a plan to storm State House hours after he said on live television Azimio had dropped the plan.
He told his supporters the protest will set off at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) through Parliament before culminating at State House.
“Kenyans, tomorrow is a public holiday. We will be assembling in Nairobi and if you can not come to Nairobi, demonstrate where you are in your own way peacefully,” he told a public rally in Rongai, Nakuru county.
Odinga had told Citizen TV that selected leaders would seek audience with Ruto to avoid a security breach at State House.
“We will hand the petition to the President wherever he will be. If he is at his office, we will take it there. If he is at State House, we will hand it over there,” he said.
“We will walk peacefully and only a few of us two or three people will walk into the State House to present the petition,” Odinga explained.
When asked if the Azimio Coalition had settled on representatives to meet Ruto, Odinga said the matter was under discussion and that he would be glad if the party picks him among representatives to present a petition to the Head of State.
Earlier on, Nairobi police chief Adamson Bungei cited failure by opposition leaders to adhere to provisions of the Public Order Act.
Addressing the media on Sunday, Bungei insisted the protests slated for Monday contravene the Public Order Act, 2021 and pose a threat to peace.
Bungei said the police had received requests from two groups (Nairobi business community and the Azimio party) intending to hold protests on the same day and decided to grant none the permit to protest.
“We are in receipt of two requests that came late yesterday and today in the m morning. One was from Azimio la Umoja One Kenya and another from the Nairobi business community, the two groups intended to have peaceful demos. But for public safety none has been granted,” he said.
“The Public Orders Act, 2012 provides that any person intending to convene any meeting or a public procession shall notify the regulating officer of such intent at least three days but not more than fourteen days before the proposed date of the public meeting,” he pointed out.
Bungei said the two groups did not meet the threshold to be allowed to carry on with planned protests and warned of dire consequences should any of the formations break the law.
“Any person who will participate in the planned demonstrations is notified to do so peacefully as guided by the constitution of Kenya,” he said.