African Press International (API)

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Kenya: Beating them up – a lesson before real campaigning starts

Posted by African Press International on September 23, 2007

By Beauttah Omanga, Robert Nyasato and Ayub Savula

Violence and ugly incidents marred the campaign trail as ODM leaders, Mr William Ruto, Mr Omingo Magara and an aspirant were viciously attacked by youths in South Mugirango constituency as they attempted to attend a fundraiser presided over by Roads minister, Mr Simeon Nyachae.

And in Busia, ODM-Kenya presidential candidate, Mr Kalonzo Musyoka and his running mate, Dr Julia Ojiambo were heckled by a rowdy crowd, forcing police to intervene and escort them to safety out of town.

In scenes reminiscent of ordinary thugs being chased out of the market, the MPs had to run for dear life and even had their clothes torn by blood thirsty youths.

Ruto, Magara and the aspirant, Mr Chris Bichage were injured after they were pelted with stones and hit with clubs by the hostile youth who barred them from entering the Nyachae meeting venue.

An arrow aimed at the MPs narrowly missed Bichage who sustained serious injuries from blows.

Police protected KalonzoIn Busia, police had to usher Kalonzo to his vehicle then escort his convoy with police vehicles seven kilometres out of the town.In one of the ugliest incidents of this years electioneering, the MPs in both incidents were humiliated in scenes later condemned by ODM politicians.

Ruto, Magara and Bichage had to flee for dear life with youths in hot pursuit, baying for their blood.

They were rescued by a matatu into which they jumped and asked the driver to speed off to safety.

The incident occurred at Nyamarambe playgrounds where Nyachae was presiding over a fundraising for youth groups in Magaras South Mugirango constituency, apparently without the MP being informed.

The ODM team that had earlier attended another function in Gucha landed at the field in a helicopter and headed for the dais.

But even before the dust raised by the chopper could settle, youths armed with clubs, arrows and stones charged at the politicians.

Also caught in the fracas was former Finance minister, Dr Chris Obure, who had just arrived.

The helicopter flew off as youths aimed missiles at it.

Magara and his team were hit with stones before police charged at the youths, firing in the air to scare them away.

The MPs bodyguards also drew guns and shot in the air as chaos reigned.

A pistol belonging to Magaras bodyguard fell as the ODM team ran out of the venue.

But a police officer retrieved the gun and handed it to the bodyguard as mayhem reigned.

Ruto and Magara were hit several times with stones while Bichage was roughed up and thrown to the ground.

Ready for combatThe vehicle in which they sought refuge took them to Rongo town.

A youth armed with a bow and arrows charges at Eldoret North MP, Mr William Ruto, on arrival at Nyamarambe.

Ruto was injured on the knee, while Magara was badly hurt on the right hand. Bichage sustained multiple injuries and a dislocation on the shoulder. An arrow aimed at him whizzed past his head.Nyachae and other Ford-People MPs remained unmoved at the main dais as the ugly scene unfolded.

Nyachae has been named Panus advisory board chairman and by the virtue of his position, he is at the helm of President Kibakis re-election campaign.

Tension had been high as supporters of Nyachae vowed that Magara, who is ODM point man in Gusiiland, would not set foot at the venue.

The youths, locally known as chinkororo, wore maroon robes and were armed with bows and arrows in readiness for combat.

They had first been greeted by Nyachae, who commended them for their bravery and defending the rights of their community and its political stand.

“I am proud of these youths; they stood by me when I was campaigning for your MP during a by-election,” the Roads minister had said.

The harambee in aid of youths was orgnised by various parliamentary aspirants who had invited Nyachae as the chief guest.

Medical personnel receive South Mugirango MP, Mr Omingo Magara at the Wilson Airport, Nairobi on Friday.

Magara, also the ODM treasurer, was not invited for the fundraiser and had earlier told The Saturday Standard it was his right to attend as the area MP.Tension remained high after some supporters of Magara earlier stormed out of the function in solidarity with their MP.

Speaking at a Press conference in Rongo town, the leaders blamed Nyachae and Planning minister, Mr Henry Obwocha for the fracas.

They also demanded the arrest of the two ministers.

Ruto called on the Police Commissioner, Maj Gen Hussein Ali, to take action against the two ministers.

“This is not only satanic but primitive for a Government to watch as elected leaders are harassed by armed youths,” said Ruto.

“It is by the grace of God we are alive since the youths seemed to be under instructions to eliminate us,” he added.

Magara claimed some of the youths were imported from other constituencies.

However, Nyachae dismissed ODM teams claims, adding they were the ones who invaded his meeting.

“We did not invite them to the meeting and we are not to blame for what befell them,” said the Nyaribari Chache MP.

Nyachae said his party had never interfered with any of the Opposition rallies in the region and wondered why Magara and his team stormed a Ford-People meeting.

He claimed he has an army of youth who will defend Ford-People at whatever cost.

MPs present at the rally were Mr Jimmy Angwenyi, Mr Zebedeo Opore, Dr Hezron Manduku, Mr Geoffrey Masanya, Mr Mwancha Okioma, and Assistant minister, Mr Joel Onyancha.

At Rongo, Magara said he would not be intimidated to keep off his constituency, saying he was ready to face his critics.

“This primitive behaviour will not deter us from bringing about change in this country. We are determined to get rid of Nyachae and his group,” said Magara.

Their chopper picked them from Rongo and flew them to Wilson Airport, Nairobi, from where they were taken to Nairobi Hospital for treatment.

The three were admitted to the hospital overnight for observation.

At the airport, Bichage was carried on a stretcher as Ruto and Magara showed journalists their injuries.

Ruto and Bichages trousers were torn.

They were met at the Airport by Railas presidential running mate, Mr Musalia Mudavadi, party chairman Mr Henry Kosgey, Secretary General, Prof Anyang Nyongo, MPs Mr Reuben Ndolo, Mr Musa Sirma and secretariat director Ms Janet Ongera.

Mudavadi said the attack was part of a wider plot to stop ODM from campaigning in some areas.

“This is a scheme to bar us from accessing some areas. But nothing and no one will stop the ODM campaign,” said Mudavadi.

A furious Kosgey said: “This Government will go the same way it came. Security is not a favour, it is our right and we demand it.”

Raila, who called on his way from the US, condemmed the attack.

He said: “This cannot deter us from campaigning. When I land there (this morning) we will hit the road and we are unstoppable.”

Raila said he would visit them in hospital this morning.

Earlier, while attending a funeral in Gucha, Ruto urged the Kisii to support ODMs presidential candidate, Mr Raila Odinga.

Ruto spoke at Nyamache, in Bobasi constituency during the burial of a teacher who was killed by thugs two weeks ago.

Magara warned the Gusii to be wary of individuals out to alienate them from participating in the process of forming the next Government.

“We dont want to join the Government through the window. Let us be part of the party that will form the next Government,” Magara said.

Lifted and published by Korir, API*APN africanpress@chello.no tel +4793299739 or +4763002525 source.standard.ke

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