A section of leaders from Western Kenya have told ODM-allied politicians to stop using the handshake to undermine the work of DP William Ruto.
The leaders among them MPs Didmus Barasa (Kimilili), Bernard Shinali (Ikolomani), Charles Gimose (Hamisi) and former MP Bonny Khalwale called for respect among leaders, saying the March 9 handshake should not be used to abuse or undermine other leaders.
Speaking at Shimakhokho in Vihiga County on Sunday during a thanksgiving ceremony for local MCA Rev Douglas Beru, the leaders said Ruto was the principal assistant to President Uhuru Kenyatta and was constitutionally elected to office by Kenyans.
Ruto, Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka and Sports CS Mohammed Achesa, Vihiga Governor Wilberforce Ottichilo and former governor Moses Akaranga also attended the function.
“Leaders should not use the handshake to abuse or undermine the work of the Deputy President. We don’t want confusion. In fact we want to know what position Mr Raila Odinga holds in this administration that has warranted ODM leaders to behave as if they are part and parcel of this government,” said Didmus.
He told ODM legislators to stop viewing Raila as if he was a co-principal, adding that the Nasa leader lost to President Kenyatta during last year’s general election and remains an Opposition leader.
Khalwale cautioned that the much publicized unity pact was destined to collapse if the ODM leadership continued undermining the work of other leaders.
“The handshake is purely meant to unite all Kenyans and accelerate development but not to abuse others,” Khalwale said.
Other leaders who attended the function included Governors Patrick Khaemba (Trans Nzoia), John Lonyangapuo (West Pokot), MPs Chris Wamalwa (Kiminini), Catherine Wambilianga (Bungoma County), Ferdinand Wanyonyi (Kwanza), Janet Nangabo (Trans Nzoia), Paul Katana (Kaloleni) and Lilian Tomito (West Pokot).
Ruto said the government is ready to work with all elected leaders irrespective of their political affiliation with the aim of developing the country.
He appealed to elected leaders to shun petty politics and focus on serving Kenyans.
“As leaders we have all united irrespective of our political parties, we are now one team focused on serving Kenyans.”
Khaemba said his office and Trans Nzoia County Assembly are focused on developing the county in partnership with the national government.
He said: “The County Assembly and I decided to work with the government and shun politics. We used politics as vehicles to power.”
Barasa added: “I urge my colleagues from Nyanza, use the handshake to revive projects that stalled when Raila was Prime Minister.”
Tomito told Ruto to continue building bridges of friendship with other leaders ahead of the 2022 race.
“If we work with others our work will be easy in the future.”
Her sentiments were echoed by Wamalwa who asked the DP to continue establishing networks across the country.