Anti-referendum hooligans attack Nandi officials

ANTI-referendum hooligans yesterday attacked a meeting in Kapsabet and injured four people, including the chief of staff of Nandi Governor Cleophas Lagat.

The meeting had been convened by URP to decide the position leaders should take on the proposed plebiscite and was attended by six MPs, all opposed to the referendum.

Pandemonium broke out when two opposing factions of the Pesa Mashinani campaign confronted one another near the URP offices.

The governor’s chief of staff Timon Kosgei was singled out for supporting the referendum. The governor, buoyed by support from county reps, has defied calls to abandon the campaign and URP has resorted to using MPs to pressure him.

Kosgei had left the venue of the meeting to sit in his car after the mob turned rowdy. They followed him and dragged him out before hitting him on the head with a large stone. He also suffered chest injuries and fell down unconscious as three others were mercilessly beaten.

They were admitted at the Kapsabet District Hospital.

A former Kapsabet mayor, David Ng’etich, who was in the car with Kosgei, jumped out and took refuge in a police car as the youths bayed for his blood. They claimed that the pro-referendum group was undermining Deputy President William Ruto.

The governor’s press secretary, Kipkorir Birgen, condemned the attack in an interview.

“We are all working under one government. It is wrong to bring in goons to force people to follow what they want. Nandi is part of Kenya and not an isolated county,” he said.

Chaos erupted soon after Chesumei MP Elijah Lagat defected from the pro-referendum camp, announcing that he was following the party line.

Governor Lagat, who had been summoned to attend the meeting, boycotted it and did not send a representative, unlike the case last week when he dispatched his deputy Dominic Biwott.

Another notable absentee was outspoken Nandi-Hills MP Alfred Keter, who over the weekend attended the launch of the governors’ referendum meetings in Bomet and Kakamega.

Legislators who attended yesterday’s meeting were Senator Stephen Sang’, Women’s representative Zipporah Kering’, and MPs Lagat, Kirwa Bitok (Mosop), Elijah Lagat (Chesumei) and Cornelius Serem (Aldai).

Tinderet MP Julius Meli and Emgwen MP Alexander Kosgei were absent with apologies.

All URP nominated MCAs who have been threatened with recall if they support the referendum were also present yesterday.

Of the 30 elected MCAs, only four were present while the rest remain behind the governor.

The leaders criticised Governor Lagat for working with ‘enemies of Jubilee’ to push for a referendum that they said would undermine the government of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Ruto. The leaders issued a notice to the governor that he risked the wrath of the party if he did not change his tune.

Birgen dismissed the threats, saying it was Lagat’s constitutional right to say what he deems fit for the electorate and cannot be dictated to by anyone.

“The governor has made no mistake. What he is asking is to demand more allocations for devolved functions and he is not undermining Jubilee,” Birgen added.


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