Top Stories / National
Thursday, 09 Mar 2017 16:13 EATnmuthoni@kenyafreepress.com
Hundreds of residents of West Pokot County today held a demonstration at Makutano Town, Kapenguria, against Deputy President William Ruto, whom they accused of inciting violence between law enforcement officials and the Pokot community. The residents who included boda boda operators, youths and local activists, rallied in support of Pokot leaders who have accused the DP of allegedly maligning the community.
Mr Ruto has in recent weeks spoken critically of cattle raiders and armed pastoralists from the Pokot community who have caused mayhem in Elgeyo Marakwet and Baringo counties, killing dozens of settled farmers as they push their livestock into farms in search of water and pasture.
At a meeting in Baringo on February 24, he instructed police officers to shoot to kill raiders, an order that was condemned by human rights campaigners. The DP told a rally at Sibilo, Mochongoi: "Armed criminals who can dare kill a two-day-old baby can do anything and should not be spared but face the same consequences. I am issuing an order to police officers and police reservists to shoot any bandit they come across.”
The protestors urged President Uhuru Kenyatta to reprimand his deputy William Ruto pertaining to his response over the killings in Baringo and Elgeyo Marakwet, accusing the DP of "inciting violence against innocent Pokot citizens". They claimed the DP's order was meant to reach out to tribes including Marakwets, Keiyos and Tugens who have born the brunt of the violence in Kerio Valley and Baringo North areas.
"We acknowledge that cattle rustling is a menace in this region and it has to be dealt with. However the DP is openly inciting violence by visiting only some tribes. If it was peace he was pursuing he would have visited Trans Nzoia and other areas with the same message," said the marchers' leader, speaking on a megaphone.
The demo carried deep political undertones as some in the crowds sang praises of West Pokot senator John Lonyangapuo, who has emerged a key critic of the DP, and derided Pokot leaders who had joined Mr Ruto's camp as "traitors", according to sources from the event who provided video and still pictures of the protest to this website.
The leader said the Pokots want their share of development since they are Kenyan citizens and will demand to enjoy their rights as anyone else in the country, including the right to a fair trial in case of criminal acts. Prof. Lonyangapuo is a key ally of Kanu chairman Gideon Moi, who is in a proxy war with Ruto over the Rift Valley vote.
Prof. Lonyangapuo, who was crowned the Pokot community last year, is in a do-or-die battle against the West Pokot governor Simon Kachapin, a Kanu member who has since decamped to Jubilee. Mr Kachapin banking on Mr Ruto's support while Prof. Lonyangapuo has joined forces with former cabinet minister Samuel Poghisio, to counter the DP's influence in Pokot politics.