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BBI CONFRONTATION

Police warning will not stop Mumias meeting, say Western MPs

The meeting in Nabongo sports grounds was cancelled for security reasons.

In Summary

• Mumias MP confirmed they will proceed with their parallel meeting accusing the Police of taking sides in the matter.

• “This is an example where police have been used wrongly. Why were they issuing the other permit in the first place?,” Washiali said.

Former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale, Lurambi MP Titus Khamala, DP William Ruto and Mumias East MP Benjamin Washiali during a meeting in Kakamega
Former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale, Lurambi MP Titus Khamala, DP William Ruto and Mumias East MP Benjamin Washiali during a meeting in Kakamega
Image: CALISTUS LUCHETU

Confrontation looms in Kakamega on Saturday as DP William Ruto allies promise to defy a police warning and hold a meeting in Mumias parallel to the BBI rally in Bukhungu.

On Tuesday, Police in Kakamega cancelled the meeting convened by a section of Jubilee leaders led by Mumias East MP Benjamin Washiali. 

Observers saw Ruto’s hand in the Mumias meeting, which they claimed was part of the DP's plan to scuttle the BBI rallies he has publicly opposed.  

 
 

Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala yesterday told the Star that the DP was sponsoring the Mumias rally, but they will not entertain it.

Malala dismissed the plan as an exercise in futility becuase Western leaders are united behind the Building Bridges Initiative spearheaded by President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga.

“That was a Ruto event. In fact, he is the one financing them. What is surprising is why Wetang'ula and Mudavadi are involved,” Malala said.

Police cancelled the meeting in Nabongo Sports grounds citing security reasons.

They also warned the organisers against going on with the meeting as those who contravene the directive will be held criminally responsible.

“This is to notify you that office has cancelled your permit to carry out the above exercise purportedly scheduled to take place on 18/01/2020 at Nabongo Sports Grounds starting 0900 hrs due to security reasons,” read part of the letter signed by Mumias OCS Albert Chebii.

But Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa – another Ruto ally from the region– promised that they will proceed with their meeting.

 
 

“How can they cancel a meeting? It is not possible. Do they have the powers to cancel a meeting? We were already given an approval letter,” Barasa said.

He said no police intimidation will stop the team from holding the meeting.

“It doesn’t matter, we will go and hold the meeting. We were already given an approval letter. The meeting will go on wapende wasipende (whether they like it or not). Which security reasons? We are beyond these antics of a yesterday order,” he said. 

Washiali said they will proceed with their parallel meeting and accused the police of taking sides.

“Why were they issuing the other permit in the first place? Members are very disturbed and I don’t think they will pull out from the decision we had made, the meeting will proceed,” Washiali said.

Mudavadi and Wetangula, who are expected to attend the Mumias meeting, had expressed reservations to the regional meetings.  

The two leaders called for the postponement of the Saturday Kakamega meeting to allow the region to reach consensus.

“It will serve an extremely in-erasable blot on the region if the BBI will be the vehicle that is used to divide the leadership of the region, rather than uniting our people,” they said in a joint statement on Monday.

Washiali denied claims of organising BBI parallel meeting as theirs was planned in November last year.

“It is not parallel, in fact BBI is what you may call parallel. As leaders from the western region, we have always been wishing that something is done on the plight of Mumias Sugar.

“I don’t know whether these BBI organisers knew we had arranged that for them to create a picture that we are in a coalition with their summit,” Washiali told Star on the phone.

Washiali said the Mumias meeting will start with a boardroom brief by the company’s receiver-manager before the leaders proceed to Mumias town for a major rally ‘to explain to the farmers and give them confidence that all is well’.

But nominated MP Godfrey Osotsi dismissed the Mumias meeting as ‘myopic diversionary tactic’ meant to stop the people from the western region from having robust public discourse on the BBI.

“Those opposed to our meeting are free to go ahead with theirs at Mumias Sugar on the same day.

“ But they must be told that the issue of Mumias Sugar, Panpaper, Mudete Tea factory will be part of the BBI discourse and that no visionary leader will celebrate a receiver-manager,” Osotsi said.

Ford Kenya secretary general Simiyu Eseli said he would not attend the meeting in Mumias.

“If the Bukhungu meeting is not of any use, then why should I be going to Mumias. Personally, I do not like reactionary activities,” he said.

He warned that both ODM and Jubilee leaders from the region might be playing games with locals.

“The Jubilee MPs want to talk about the bad performing economy yet they are in government. They will just be shedding crocodile tears,” Eseli added.