Kenyan deputy president and presidential candidate William Ruto described the obstacles placed in his way to holding final political rallies as “sabotage”. Speaking at a press conference today (Thursday) he said the excuses offered by the government were “ridiculous” as the campaign enters its final days.
“As you are aware, there has been an attempt by our competitors to lock us out of venues for meetings,” Ruto told journalists from his residence in Karen, Nairobi, in what he said was an effort to call attention to the “disruptive situation” created by the government.
After being denied access to Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi for his final campaign rally on Saturday, his United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party took the case to court.
At a hearing on Thursday morning Justice Joseph Sergon ruled that Ruto should be allowed to hold his rally in Nyayo.
Speaking in English, Ruto said he wanted to call public attention to the attempts by the government to hinder his campaign for the elections on 9 August.
Ruto is scheduled to hold his final rally in Mombasa this afternoon, but noted that he had been locked out of the venue at Tononoka grounds.
Both Ruto and his main competitor, Odinga, have been running campaigns that advocate peace during the election, but local press has highlighted the mudslinging between the two at campaign rallies when they are speaking in Kiswahili.
During Thursday’s press conference, Ruto outlined a number of complaints that he had already expressed on the campaign trail, including the alleged manipulation of local chiefs by Odinga to try and capture their votes.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi, who has openly declared his allegiance to Odinga, said allegations of any sort of manipulation of the chiefs were “lies” despite being reported in the local press earlier this week.
In Eldoret, where Ruto comes from, leaflets were found inciting violence, and police were sent to the area.
Ruto mentioned this in his press conference, but Matiangi also addressed this earlier this week.
“Even the claims that you heard yesterday [Monday] that the leaflets were authored by people from the office of the president [are untrue]. We have eight suspects in police custody and none of them is an employee of the office of the president,” he reportedly said.
Ruto again called for peace, noting that the IEBC – the Kenyan election commission – will do its job during the election.
“I have absolute confidence that the IEBC left alone will carry out its responsibility in accordance with the constitution,” he said.
Meanwhile, the candidates have three more days to convince voters to side with them. Campaigning ends on Saturday.
Ruto says he will continue to hold rallies during this time.
Ruto cited a problem last week when he was locked out of the stadium in Kakamega, in western Kenya.
He said he held an even bigger rally outside the site. At the press conference, he indicated the same thing may happen today in Kenya’s second-largest city.
“Some people are trying to use the police to stop us from holding that meeting. This is our final rally in Mombasa,” he said.
“The excuses they are giving us is that the president is in Mombasa. How ridiculous can that be?” noting that he and party supporters will be present at 2pm at Tononoka grounds or they will hold the final rally outside.