President Uhuru Kenyatta has dismissed claims that he plans to use the handshake with Opposition chief Raila Odinga to remain in power.
Uhuru said Raila had not told him he would vie for the presidency in 2022.
"He (Raila) has never told me he wants to be president in 2022. I have also not told him I want to continue to be president after 2022. We have just been talking about issues that affect our people,” said Uhuru.
In a response perceived to target his deputy William Ruto, Uhuru said claims that Raila was out to wreck Jubilee Party ahead of the next polls were baseless as their deal was about uniting the country for economic growth.
Ruto and his allies have publicly opposed the March 9, 2018 handshake.
They say Raila is using the deal to wreck Jubilee in an effort to block Ruto from succeeding Uhuru in 2022.
But speaking when he closed the inaugural AfroChampions Boma forum on African Infrastructure Financing and Delivery organised by AfroChampions Initiative, Uhuru hit back, accusing Ruto and his allies of engaging in unnecessary politicking at the expense of service delivery.
He said his discussions with Raila have been around improvement of infrastructure, healthcare and general service delivery to the people and not about Jubilee or ODM.
“When it comes to infrastructure, what do we need to do? And we discuss and we support each other and agree. When it comes to health, this is what we need to do. What is this issue of digitising our records and what is it all about. We sit, we discuss, and we agree,” Uhuru said.
He added: “Raila also gives me ideas that enhance something and make it even better. Now what's wrong with that?"
Lakini watu huko wanasema Raila anavunja Jubilee (But some people are claiming Raila wants to break Jubilee). Where do we even talk about Jubilee?” he said.
Yesterday, some Ruto allies maintained they are suspicious of Raila, claiming he could be out to foment divisions in the party “just like he did to Kanu”.
Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria and Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa said Raila was not genuine about the rapprochement.
Kuria said the fact that Raila had not rebuked Senator James Orengo, who spoke of a possible political alliance ahead of 2022, and ODM's decision to field “a handshake candidate” in Embakasi South were telling.
“Raila has people like Orengo who have been saying the handshake is about 2022. Has Raila come out to publicly rebuke him? In Embakasi South they told us that Irshard Sumra was a handshake candidate. These talks are creating suspicion,” he said.
Barasa said Raila seems to be out to wreck the outfit but Uhuru may not be aware.
“Raila has an agenda Uhuru is not aware of - to wreck Jubilee. The fact that ODM and JP have not merged, means they are competitors. Politics is about wrecking the boat of your competitors to create a chance for yours,” he said.
National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale, however, downplayed claims of wrangles in Jubilee, saying the party is intact.
He said those claiming to be in rival camps “are small people engaging in sideshows”.
Duale said nothing had changed about Uhuru's pledge to back Ruto, and that any candidate keen on vying for the 2022 presidential election was free to challenge Ruto for the Jubilee ticket.
Former Jubilee vice chairman David Murathe said Uhuru was basically telling off Ruto’s camp over their opposition to the handshake.
“He was basically telling them he is firmly behind the handshake and nothing will dissuade him. The President was directly responding to them, that the deal will remain whether they like or not,” said Murathe.