Raila and Ruto latest moves stir debate on 2022 race

DP William Ruto chats with former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale during the homecoming of Lurambi MP Titus Khamala at Mwangaza Secondary School. [DPPS]
Deputy President William Ruto and opposition leader Raila Odinga attended several events this weekend; in what looks like preparations for a political duel.

On Saturday, Mr Ruto appeared in four functions and Raila three. The two leaders shared a podium the previous day in Nyamira, during the burial of former Planning Minister Henry Obwocha, where they clashed over last year's disputed presidential election. 

Whereas Ruto’s forays are meant to promote his 2022 presidential bid, it is Raila's presence at various recent events that seem to be raising interest.

Political lull

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The deputy president, during a recent event, for the first time, spoke about how he had been earmarked for the prime minister's position had Raila won the presidency in 2007. 

There has been a lull in political confrontation since the two clashed over attempts to amend the Constitution, which Ruto has claimed is a ploy by Raila to get to power through the back door.

Since the handshake with President Uhuru Kenyatta on March 9, Raila has not held any major event, only appearing in church functions or hosting delegations of both political and business leaders at his Nairobi office.

Raila has on several occasions warned against premature campaigns for 2022. But a delegation of Meru leaders that held talks with the ODM leader at his Nairobi office last week said they backed him to succeed President Kenyatta.

DP's diary

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His allies insist his engagements have nothing to do with the 2022 succession politics, arguing he is holding meetings to popularise his unity deal with the president and other activities in his capacity as party leader. 

Ruto began his day on Saturday morning at Emurua Dikirr in Narok County where he attended the wedding of area MP Johana Ngeno and Nayianoi Ntutu

He then flew to Kakamega for a thanksgiving ceremony of Lurambi MP Titus Khamala before flying to Kianyaga, Kirinyaga County, where he addressed a rally with area Governor Anne Waiguru.

In the night, Ruto left the country to Kampala, Uganda, to receive the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award during the Young Achievers awards ceremony.

ODM leader Raila Odinga juggles the ball during the closing ceremony of inter-county games in Kisii.[Sammy Omingo, Standard]
And Raila began his day in Seme, Kisumu County, for the burial of Mary Auma, the mother of former Harambee Stars captain Dennis Oliech, before departing to Kisii for the closing ceremony of the sixth edition of the Kenya Inter-County Sports and Cultural Association games.

SEE ALSO :Raila, Ruto war explodes yet again

In the late afternoon, Raila accompanied by former Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto arrived in Emurua Dikirr, hours after the DP had left the same venue.

National Assembly Minority Whip Junet Mohammed said Raila’s public appearances had nothing to do with politics of 2022, but rather his capacity as a leader of a political party.

Makadara MP George Aladwa, who is also the ODM Nairobi branch chairman, said his party leader’s activities were not about 2022 but promoting his ‘Building Bridges’ initiative with President Kenyatta.

“If you see my party leader in your region, then be assured his mission will not be politics but building bridges and promoting unity among Kenyans,” said Aladwa.

Speaking in Kakamega, Ruto asked Raila and ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi to support his quest as away of paying their debt for supporting ODM in 2007 elections.

“However, my two big brothers decided to share my post among themselves, leaving me without anything despite our earlier deal. And now that I am just metres away from the big seat, if I ask for their support will I be wrong?” the DP asked.

No debt

But when he rose to speak, Mudavadi said he had no one’s debt, adding that in any case, the Deputy President should be the one supporting him in 2022 as he (Ruto) and President Kenyatta betrayed him in 2013.

“Ruto and Uhuru in 2013 came to my house and they took tea and mandazi as we agreed on the two fronting me, but they later turned tables on me and called me ‘mademoni’ (evil),” said Mudavadi.

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