Police in Mumias, Kakamega County, have blocked two church functions that Deputy President William Ruto was to attend on Sunday, citing the Covid-19 pandemic and the need to maintain security.
The DP was to preside over fundraisers in Matungu and Mumias East constituencies for the Indangalasia and Bumini parishes, respectively.
Mr Christopher Wesonga, the Shianda Police Station OCS, said police denied event organisers permits based on measures taken to contain the Covid-19 pandemic and security threats.
In a letter to the chairman of the steering committee of St Leo Catholic Church, Shianda, the OCS said no mass involving all 10 sub-parishes under Bumini will take place.
“Further, there should be no form of gathering around the said church. Any gathering will be considered a contravention of section 5 of the Public Order Act Cap 56 laws of Kenya and will not be tolerated,” the notice stated.
A similar notice from Matungu Sub-County Police Commander Bernard Ngungu was sent to organisers of the fundraiser at Indangalasia.
Mr Ngungu said intelligence indicated that some people were planning to cause chaos at the fundraiser.
“Furthermore, Covid-19 restrictions are still in force. This contributed to the banning of the event that would gather hundreds of people together,” he said.
MPs Benjamin Washiali (Mumias East) and Justus Murunga (Matungu) confirmed receiving notices from police about the developments.
Mr Murunga said, however, “It is sad that police are being used to settle political scores in the guise of enforcing Covid-19 restrictions. Why should the restrictions be applied on one side only?”
Mr Washiali laughed off the cancellations, saying the government is making DP Ruto more familiar to the people and therefore a stronger candidate for the 2022 presidential race.
“They could be doing this thinking they are finishing him, but in essence, they are building him up,” he said.
Following the government’s move to quell violence due to political tensions, after two people were died at Kenol in Murang’a County about a week ago, several functions that Dr Ruto was to attend have been canceled.
The National Security Advisory Committee prohibited public gatherings without clearance by local police authorities. And last Wednesday, Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua directed politicians intending to hold public meetings to notify OCSs three days before.
He warned against early campaigns, accusing politicians of using rallies to incite their supporters to violence.
On Thursday, Dr Ruto’s meeting to raise funds for boda boda riders in Nyamira County was scuttled by lorry loads of police officers.
Another meeting organised by the DP’s allies in Ukunda, to drum up support for Msambweni MP hopeful Feisal Bader, was stopped on Friday.
Dr Ruto’s allies, including former senators Johnstone Muthama (Machakos), Boni Khalwale (Kakamega) and Hassan Omar (Mombasa), were denied access to Diani Reef hotel by heavily armed police who teargassed them after they insisted on carrying on with their mission.
On September 24, the DP went against his party’s wish not to field a candidate for the Msambweni by-election and declared he will back Mr Bader.
The seat fell vacant after ODM MP Suleiman Dori, who had been backing the Deputy President, died of cancer in March.