Nairobi, Kenya: MPs allied to President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga have accused Deputy President William Ruto of undermining his boss. The more than 25 MPs were reacting to claims by leaders allied to Dr Ruto that Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i and his Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho were involved in the chaos during last week’s Kibra by-election.
Ruto’s allies claimed Raila held a meeting with Matiang’i and Kibicho at a hotel in Karen on the eve of the by-election.
In a press conference at Parliament Buildings yesterday, the MPs from Jubilee party, ODM and Kanu said Ruto should confront Uhuru if he has any problems instead of picking battles with the President’s appointees. They said it was no longer tenable for the deputy president to continue serving under Uhuru when he was fighting his initiatives, including the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).
They claimed the allegations were part of a political script by Ruto allies to discredit Uhuru’s administration and asked the DP to be brave enough and quit. But in a tweet, Ruto yesterday insisted that Raila publicly denounce the violence witnessed on November 7. He claimed that Raila’s political history has a trail of violence that cannot be covered up by the BBI.
“Tinga/his party’s trail of political conmanship/deceit from Kanu thro’ CORD to NASA and now heading to Jubilee; and litany of violence from 82’ coup to Kibra cannot be hidden behind BBI,” said Ruto.
“As a minimum (he) must publicly renounce violence as a political tool (as well as) undertake to accept defeat,” he added.
Call to quit
His Communication Director David Mugonyi last evening also dismissed claims that Ruto was undermining Uhuru.
“The DP is focused on helping the President fulfil the promises in the Jubilee manifesto, the Big Four Agenda and uniting the country. The DP does not have the time and energy to engage those preaching hate and promoting violence,” responded Mugonyi.
The MPs allied to Uhuru and Raila, however, maintained that Ruto was bitter because of the Kibra loss and told him it was a taste of what was to come.
“They (Ruto allies) should stop blaming CS Matiang’i and PS Kibicho and should instead come out to say it is the President they are blaming,” said Tiaty MP William Kamket.
“If you (Ruto) are not satisfied with Uhuru’s administration, resign,” he added.
The lawmakers said Ruto’s team should prepare itself for more poll defeats, starting with the BBI, should it proceed to a referendum and the 2022 General Election.
“They have demonstrated that they are bad losers. The defeat of Tangatanga in Kibra is just but the beginning of many,” said Mr Kamket.
Borabu MP Ben Momanyi suggested that the country should amend the law to give the President powers to sack his deputy, stating that it is frustrating if a DP turns rogue midstream. Mr Momanyi said the Constitution leaves the Head of State vulnerable to a deputy out to frustrate his projects.
“We need changes in our Constitution so that the President can sack a deputy who decides to be rogue midterm. You cannot claim to be a deputy when you continuously undermine your boss,” he said.
Budalang’í MP Raphael Wanjala, who read the team’s joint statement, said they would not allow Ruto’s allies to blackmail State officers.
“Kenyans are aware there is a deliberate attempt by this Tangatanga group to besmirch the characters of CS Matiang’i, PS Kibicho, IG of Police Hilary Mutyambai and other senior government officers for political gain,” said Mr Wanjala.
He said the rival camp was out to create a narrative that Ruto was being targeted unfairly by mandarins in the Jubilee administration for political sympathy. The MPs further said the camp was trying to use the by-election to push a narrative that Raila was out to sabotage the March 9 truce by staging chaos.
Majority Leader Aden Duale (Garissa Township) described those calling for Ruto’s resignation as a bunch of sycophants, stating that the position is protected in law.
“The DP is the Deputy Party Leader of the ruling Jubilee Party and his office is guaranteed in the Constitution. The people calling for his resignation are a bunch of sycophants purporting to be cheerleaders.
“I am an independent-minded MP. I have been elected three times on different parties and I don’t owe political allegiance to any leader. I owe my allegiance to the people of Garissa Township and to the rank and post in the Jubilee party,” he said in response to claims by the MPs that he was non-committal in the current political discourse.
“Those who oppose or support BBI should do so after knowing the contents. An intelligent and like-minded leader like me takes a position from a point of knowledge. Those speaking now are political toddlers wearing political napkins and seeking cheap publicity through regular press conferences,” he added.
Kimili MP Didmus Barasa, another Ruto ally, labelled their opponents as busybodies who should not purport to speak for Uhuru. He said if it was true that Ruto was undermining Uhuru, the President would have faced him over it. He accused Matiang’i of abdicating his mandate in exchange for political support.
“In fact, we demand that he be dismissed from Cabinet so as to concentrate on BBI and 2022,” said Mr Barasa.