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Friday, 28 June, 2002, 15:34 GMT 16:34 UK
Kenya's political punch-up
President Daniel arap Moi
Moi did not hear the row outside his office
A former member of Kenya's parliament has accused a minister of assaulting him outside President Daniel arap Moi's State House office.

William Ruto denies hitting Reuben Chesire but admits having a "heated argument" on Thursday.


He slapped me hard in the face

Reuben Chesire
Mr Chesire says the attack did take place and left him needing hospital treatment.

The incident comes amid growing competition between different generations of Kenyan politicians ahead of the elections due to be held this year.

A group of government supporters in their thirties and early forties is said by some Kenyan commentators to have gained the ear of the president at the expense of the older generation, including Mr Chesire.

The East African Standard says that Mr Ruto, whom they describe as one of the "young Turks", sent Reuben Chesire sprawling on the floor during the clash.

"He came straight for me, rattling some words in Kalenjin, and before I knew what was happening he slapped me hard in the face", the former MP for Eldoret North told the newspaper.

Just rumours

The so-called "Rumble at State House" took place when Mr Chesire was waiting to see President Moi.

William Ruto, the Daily Nation says, was just leaving the president's office when he ran into the former MP.


Although I did not beat him up, I will do so very soon

William Ruto
What happened next is contested by the two men.

Mr Ruto told the East African Standard that there was a "heated argument", while Reuben Chesire says he was hit in the face.

President Moi was said by the newspapers to have been working in his office nearby when the incident took place.

The Standard reports that Mr Chesire later visited a Nairobi hospital for treatment for injuries to his eyes and lips.

Another MP, Musa Sirma, is said to have witnessed the incident and the Daily Nation quotes him as saying there was an argument but no fight.

Threat

The assistant minister says that during the argument he warned Mr Chesire that he would beat him up "if he continues with his sinister motives against me".

"Although I did not beat him up, I will do so very soon", Mr Ruto told the Kenyan Daily Nation.

Mr Ruto succeeded Mr Chesire as MP for Eldoret North and accuses him of maligning him and holding meetings hostile to him in the constituency.

He also claims that Mr Chesire, currently chairman of the Industrial Development Bank, has been trying to discredit him to senior party figures.

Mr Chesire has reported the incident to the police, alleging assault.

See also:

20 Jun 02 | Africa
28 Mar 02 | Africa
18 Mar 02 | Africa
31 Jan 02 | Africa
14 Jun 01 | Africa
26 Jul 01 | Country profiles
22 Feb 02 | Africa
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