Raila has refused to surrender six government vehicles allocated to him

KENYA: The Jubilee government launched a bare-knuckled attack on former Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Thursday, sensationally claiming he had orchestrated the heckling of its leaders at a public forum in Kisii.

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday skipped the mass funeral service at Gusii Stadium for students killed in a road accident, where Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i was heckled and forced to cut short the President’s condolence message.

On Thursday, government spokesman Muthui Kariuki explained that the President skipped the event because of pressing national issues, but added the telling rider that his absence saved him the embarrassment.

In a scathing attack, Kariuki claimed the “retired Prime Minister” had refused to surrender six government vehicles that had been allocated to him when he served in the coalition government.

“He’s forever moaning that the government is not giving him recognition yet he has refused to return six government vehicles, has gone on and bought an illegal siren and is forever driving all over town using the wrong lanes,” charged the official.

Real target

Kariuki’s hard-hitting statement will be seen to reflect the position of the Jubilee administration, raising the stakes in the long-running conflict with the CORDleader.

But Kariuki’s position as a mouthpiece of government remains ambiguous considering that his name did not appear on Kenyatta’s recently unveiled Presidential Strategic Communications Unit.

The President named Manoah Esipisu as the State House spokesman replacing PPS director Isaiya Kabira, who has been appointed Kenya’s Ambassador to Australia.

Kenyatta also named five directors of the Unit but never made reference to the office of government spokesman. The Criminal Investigations Department (CID) has twice summoned Raila’s aide, Mr Eliud Owalo, to record a statement over an alleged plot to “destabilise” President Kenyatta’s regime.

CORD leaders, including Senator Eseli Simiyu, who has accompanied Owalo to CID headquarters on the two occasions, have claimed the hounding of Owalo is a decoy since “the real target is Raila andCORD leaders.”

On Thursday, Kariuki did not clarify if Raila had been asked to surrender the vehicles.

“Kenyans now know better and time has come for them to put this politician to pasture,” Kariuki told a news conference at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre on Thursday.

Some time ago, Jubilee and CORD leaders traded bitter exchanges over a planned Bill on the ex-Premier’s retirement after leaders of the ruling coalition said they would only agree to the legislation onretirement benefits on condition Raila retired from politics.

The former Premier has rubbed the Government the wrong way with persistent scathing attacks.

Recently, Raila touched off a storm attacking the credibility of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and called for its reconstitution. The CORD leader said the opposition would boycott future elections if the IEBC was not overhauled.

The remarks prompted a rebuttal from some in the ruling coalition, including Deputy President William Ruto, who said independent commissions must be respected.

On Thursday, Kariuki accused the former Premier’s of stirring the country into an election mood barely months after the March 4election.

Morally repugnant

“It is very disappointing that none other than a politician of Raila Odinga’s stature would turn up at a solemn funeral ceremony and convert it into a political rally in total disregard of the feelings of the bereaved. This was not only morally repugnant but also callous in the extreme,” said Kariuki.

He added: “The former PM should cool down, accept that the elections are over and he lost alongside six others and therefore show respect for the current government.”

Asked if he thought Kenyans could revolt against President Kenyatta, Kariuki poured cold water on the move and dismissed it as “romantic”.

“Revolution against what and against who and for what? People are beginning to get veryromantic ideas because of reading things that are taking place in Egypt. Kenyans are not ready for a revolution,” said Kariuki. He added that the former PM should cultivate a culture of tolerance if he wants the government to listen to him.-standardmedia.co.ke

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