Epic showdown looms as Ruto goes for Uhuru over protests

Good times; William Ruto and Uhuru Kenyatta. Their feud is Uhuru’s dalliance with Raila Odinga, a man they both fought off to clinch power in the 2013 and 2017. [File, Standard]

A decade ago, they were meant to hang separately in The Hague for crimes against humanity.  Fate brought them out of their collective fear and they forged a political marriage. Today, the marriage is over and President William Ruto and his predecessor, Uhuru Kenyatta are embroiled in their bitterest fight yet.

The clasped hands that saluted the nation and promised "Tuko pamoja" have been unclasped and replaced by clenched fists and sneers as the two former friends now trade brickbats. The white dove that clutched a leaf and promised Kenya hope and peace has flown away to its nest. 

A police visit to the residence of Jomo Kenyatta, Uhuru’s son’s on Friday night allegedly in search of firearms, smoked out a livid former Head of State and has exposed the increasingly souring relations between the once bosom buddies.

Seemingly, at the centre of their feud is Uhuru’s dalliance with opposition leader Raila Odinga, a man both he and Ruto fervently fought off to clinch power in the 2013 and 2017 general elections and climaxed with a nullified presidential poll. 

The Kenya Kwanza government has on numerous occasions in the recent past accused Uhuru and Raila of plotting to frustrate and destabilise the ruling regime.

And given the history between Uhuru and Ruto where the latter found himself an outsider from within government thanks to the march 2018 handshake, questions abound whether the president is out for revenge or whether it is Uhuru’s ‘misdeeds’ are catching up with him.

“They have removed their (family) security and now they want to remove their personal weapons. Are they doing that because they are planning something? If they are, my plea is that they don’t plan against my mother or children. Plan for me,” said Uhuru on Friday.

His plea was reminiscent of similar one by Ruto in the run up to the 2022 general election where Ruto, then DP, alleged there was a plot to harm him, his family and allies by Uhuru.  

“Stop talking about me and talk about your candidate. Be a decent human being and show gratitude.  We are the ones that helped you clinch power. We stood with you to the last minute. You are now threatening me but as long as you do not kill my children, we can deal with each other,” said Ruto during a rally in Kapsabet.

The plea betrayed what had been an acrimonious relationship between the duo during their second term in government.

Before then, Ruto had complained of frustration from people opposed to his ascendancy to Presidency from both within and without government with his biggest blow being a request by his then boss to quit government.

Uhuru had during a televised interview in 2021 called for his deputy’s resignation after down scaling his security, declaring that that he had an agenda which he  was keen on implementing.

 “It would be the honourable thing – that if you are not happy with it – that you would step aside and allow those who want to move on to move on and then take your agenda to the people,” said Uhuru.

Consequently, Ruto distanced himself from the government’s second term projects claiming that he had been asked to step aside and allow other people help the President.

He then termed Uhuru a source of frustration and pain for him and his allies who after the handshake were dropped from parliamentary committees.

Ruto also accused Uhuru of using him for the last four years of their presidency, only to dump him for Raila Odinga.

What irked Ruto the most was the downfall of Jubilee party, a political monolith that he and Uhuru had built. Ruto and his allies, despite efforts to salvage their party and even register Jubilee Asili, were officially edged out of the then ruling party in February 2022.

And when Uhuru spoke on Friday, he accused Ruto of being behind the latest attempt to takeover Jubilee party. Uhuru vowed not to handover the party to government “puppeteers”.

"What I rejected was the coup by this government to take over the party forcefully," Uhuru stated.

This was in reference to the push by the East Africa Legislative Assembly (Eala) MP Kanini kega-led faction to oust Uhuru's side led by secretary general Jeremiah Kioni and vice chairman David Murathe.

The Azimio la umoja coalition party has now condemned the unwarranted attacks against the Uhuru family terming them acts of “grave provocation” by the Ruto administration.

“The withdrawal of his mothers’ security, the attack on his son Jomo by police and the attack and vandalisation of the family’s Northlands farm are all acts of grave provocation not only to the Kenyatta’s but to all right thinking Kenyans,” said former Muranga Governor and Azimio member Mwangi Wa Iria.

Speaking during a press conference at the SKM command centre he added, “Clearly, Ruto has for all intents and purposes suspended the constitution and is following his whims. We shall not watch helplessly as Ruto and his cronies dismantle the republic of Kenya as set up by the constitution. We shall not surrender and shall fight for our rights as our fathers did.”  

He was accompanied by Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka, Kioni and former Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa who noted that the actions by the police point to the emergence of a police state.

The Azimio coalition has now vowed not to pursue any engagements with kenya kwanza until the hostilities and their perpetrators are apprehended.

However, speaking in Vihiga, National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichungwa defended the police’s raid on Uhuru’s son’s house claiming that there were 20 guns stashed in the apartment.

“What is someone doing with 20 guns in his house yet it is not an armoury? You are crying that your mother is being harassed. We also have mothers and children who you are disturbing by organising protests which are disrupting their lives… There are guns being used to shoot protesters and later it is said that it is the police that shot them…” claimed Ichungwa.

His sentiments came hours after Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki said 23 firearms were recovered during a police raid in three homes in Karen, Nairobi, on Friday. 

 “Security intelligence has established that some of the weapons, including firearms and other crude weapons, have been used to fuel violence during violent riots. We believe they are supplied by a wide network of civilian firearm holders and leaders of known criminal gangs,” said Kindiki.