Not so long ago, Kabarnet town was the centre of power. For 24 years, it was the home of Kenya’s longest serving President Daniel Arap Moi.
We can bet that the closest the people of Kabarnet had come to teargas was when watching riots in Kondele slums on TV.
But this changed on Thursday, when police descendent on Deputy President William Ruto’s supporters with teargas and excessive force.
Wow! Kabarnet town becomes the first place to hold massive demonstration in support of Deputy President @WilliamsRuto.
The rest of the towns in Kenya will soon join in as 90% of Kenya loves and supports DP Ruto, despite the silence of #UhuruKenyatta who has abandoned him!
— Hon. Dismas Kips (@Dismoh) March 12, 2020
These guys had asked the government for permission to demonstrate but they were denied a permit. They still went ahead to picket and for the first time they have first hand information on police brutality.
Unfortunately, scenes of police teargassing people in different parts of Rift Valley may soon become a norm as we had to 2022 and beyond.
This is because the region’s kingpin Deputy President William Ruto has made it look like he is a victim of the brutal system. The system which has denied Raila Odinga the presidency from 1997.
If Ruto’s life is in danger as he purports, then who should protect him? His supporters?
By claiming that he can’t do anything about his own life, Ruto could have exposed his supporters to the same very bullies he wants them to protect him from.
The Kabarnet demos were ill advised since they achieved nothing, apart from the fact that they showed that Ruto still has the numbers in Gideon Moi’s backyard.
In Kabarnet town, Ruto supporters are smoking teargas like a chimney. They're crying for Matiang'i to send them clean handkerchiefs, and face masks.
— Gabriel Oguda (@gabrieloguda) March 12, 2020
However, the consequences of these demos will be far worse than their short term wins.
Ruto should avoid the same mistakes that Raila did, turning to his supporters to force the government to do his bidding.
Hundreds of NASA supporters died in the aftermath of the 2017 elections. More died in the 2007/8 post election violence.
But as things stand, Rift Valley is preparing to be the next opposition stronghold.