By: RAPHAEL WANJALA
President Uhuru Kenyatta Saturday begins one of his most extensive tours of western Kenya — a trip likely to have huge political undertones.
The three-day visit will take him to Kakamega, Bungoma, Kisumu, Uasin Gishu, Elgeyo Marakwet and West Pokot counties.
Although the itinerary of the trip shows that the President will be engaged in development projects, he will be expected to respond to claims of corruption in his administration.
Western diplomats have threatened to bar top government officials mentioned in corrupt deals from visiting their countries.
Mr Kenyatta begins his tour in Bungoma where he will issue a charter to Kibabii University and commission Lwakhakha border point.
“The opening of the border post — a crossing point to Uganda — re-emphasises Kenya’s commitment to free movement of goods, services and people throughout the East Africa,” said in a statement from the President’s communication unit.
Bungoma Governor Ken Lusaka on Thursday said the President was expected to bail out the ailing Nzoia Sugar Company.
The tour comes at a time Mr Lusaka’s New Ford-Kenya and rival Ford-Kenya of Senator Moses Wetang’ula are engaged in a battle for the control of the county assembly.
Cord, where Ford-K belongs, had been the majority in the assembly but lost the position last week when some nominated ward representatives defected to Jubilee.
Then there is the matter of Mr Wetang’ula’s political future following publication in the Kenya Gazette the findings of a case in which he was found to have bribed voters.
President Kenyatta will attend a service at the Anglican Church of Kenya Cathedral, Kisumu on Sunday morning.
Thereafter, he will meet Elgeyo-Marakwet, Uasin Gishu and Nandi county leaders at Eldoret State Lodge.
The matter of suspended cabinet secretaries, many of them URP members, may come up.
The other big issue expected to be discussed will be the crimes against humanity case facing Deputy President William Ruto and radio presenter Joshua arap Sang.
On Monday, the President will launch a tractor project in Eldoret, before commissioning the Iluka-Elgeyo border road and Siyoi water project.
Later in the day, he will inspect the Medical Training College campus in Kapenguria. Mr Kenyatta is expected to return to Nairobi on the same day.
In Kisumu, expectations are high among the residents over the planned visit of the President on Sunday.
Mr Kenyatta will be in the lakeside city to raise funds for the completion of St Stephen’s Cathedral, the Anglican western region’s headquarters.
Kisumu Governor Jack Ranguma told the Nation that the county was ready to receive the President.
Mr Ranguma said the visit, just like the three Mr Kenyatta has made in the region this year, would be a chance to share ideas on development.
“Any time the President comes, he gives us an ear. He has made us look at challenges as opportunities,” Mr Ranguma said on the sidelines of a youth meeting on Thursday.
Kisumu Central MP Ken Obura said he would use the tour to thank the President for the street lighting “that has reduced crime”.
A WARM WELCOME
ODM secretary for political affairs and Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi said the President should use the occasion to ask for God’s guidance on how to fight corruption and mismanagement.
“Let him engage the good counsel of our leaders so that we can end the pain faced by Kenyans brought to them by the Jubilee government,” Mr Wandayi said.
The opposition has been calling on Mr Kenyatta to break his silence on corruption claims facing Devolution and Planning Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru.
Canon Joshua Owiti, one of the key organisers of the Anglican fundraiser, said: “We take this opportunity to welcome the President to Kisumu. We will conduct the service at Kenyatta Sports Ground. He will then plant a tree at the cathedral,” the Rev Owiti said.
In Kakamega, Jubilee politician Stanley Livondo said he would organise residents, especially youths, to giving President Kenyatta a warm welcome.
Mr Livondo has declared interest in the Kakamega senatorial seat.
SOURCE: DAILY NATION