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Now focus on Ruto-Sang case for Jubilee to hold, say analysts

Although Friday’s withdrawal of the ICC charges against President Uhuru Kenyatta was highly celebrated by the Jubilee coalition, political pundits are warning that the umbilical cord that holds the coalition together could have been cut.

Leaders in Rift Valley expressed apprehension that the termination of the case could jeopardise the Jubilee coalition. But speaking in Kilifi yesterday, Ruto assured his supporters that his partnership with President Kenyatta was intact and that they are committed to uniting all Kenyans.

“Our desire is to unite this country. That is what brought and keeps us together,” Ruto said.

However, Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter says the Government should also put in a lot of effort to push for the termination of Deputy President William Ruto’s case. The MP said it is unfortunate that those who fixed the DP still hold influential positions in Government.

“Those who had a hand in the DP’s current troubles are sitting comfortable in this Government. They are part of the system and we wonder what to celebrate when our brothers are still in deep trouble,” Keter told The Standard on Sunday.

Bomet East MP Bernard Bett has called for thorough investigations into allegations that some senior government officials played a role in fixing the Deputy President at the ICC.

“There is need to thoroughly investigate these allegations because it is totally hypocritical for some civil servants to claim to be serving the people they wanted jailed for crimes they did not commit,” said Bett.

The MP said Defence Principal Secretary Mutea Iringo and long-serving State House Political Advisor Nancy Gitau — who were mentioned at the ICC by Ruto’s lawyer Karim Khan — must be investigated.

Indispensable asset

In his statement after receiving news of the withdrawal, President Kenyatta said Ruto was an indispensable asset in his Government, perhaps in a bid to calm turbulent political waters in the Rift Valley.

“My brother and deputy, Hon William Ruto, as well as Mr Joshua Sang continue to face their accusers at the ICC with a clear conscience. With me, they have been steadfast in declaring their innocence. I am confident that they will be vindicated in due course. I stand with them, and will support them and pray with them until that time,” said the President.

He added: “As my deputy and principal assistant, William Ruto is an indispensable asset in my government. I look forward to the day when we shall not have the distraction of the trials, so that we can continue delivering our transformational agenda to the people of Kenya.”

Adams Oloo, Head of Political Science and Public Administration at the University of Nairobi, argues that the future of the ruling coalition now depends on how TNA treats the DP’s case. According to Dr Oloo, the suspicion would easily creep in if the President’s party is perceived to move on after the withdrawal of his case and leave “URP to struggle on its own.”

“The relationship now depends on whether TNA will use the state machinery they deployed to bring down the President’s case. Anything less will trigger suspicion. If they adopt a ‘we don’t care’ attitude, the rift will definitely emerge or widen,” said Dr Oloo.

Political analyst Mutahi Ngunyi says President Kenyatta has no option but to stand in solidarity with his deputy if only to appease Ruto’s constituency in the Rift Valley.

Opportunistic cracks

“President Kenyatta must stand in solidarity with Ruto. He must defend him as though the case was against him because this is the only decent thing to do to avoid any opportunistic cracks,” he said.

Murmurs over the impact of the case’s withdrawal have already arisen in URP, with some politicians saying suspicion can only grow if the Government does not show the enthusiasm it has shown the President’s case with the Ruto-Sang one.

Many residents of Rift Valley are watching and monitoring closely what will become of the Ruto case and the kind of support it will receive from the TNA wing of Jubilee.

But a section of legislators from the region are cautious on the implications of the withdrawal of President Kenyatta’s case. The leaders have allayed fears that the acquittal of President Kenyatta by the ICC would undermine the political connection between URP and TNA.

Kericho Senator Charles Ketter said Jubilee leaders have every reason to celebrate because they had reduced the cases to one. “There are only three witnesses before the lawyers make submissions. We know that the case was flimsy and political and it will come to nothing. Our ruling coalition’s unity is intact,” said Keter.

National Assembly Deputy Speaker Joyce Laboso warned that opponents would want to use the withdrawal of the President’s case to create a wedge between TNA and URP supporters.

“As a coalition, the acquittal of President Kenyatta will unite us even more because we are forging a common cause. The President will now focus more on issues that affect Kenyans such as insecurity without a criminal case hanging over his head,” said the Sotik MP.

 “As we welcome the termination of the case against the President, we also appeal to the ICC to expedite the cases facing Ruto and radio journalist Joshua Sang. From what we have been hearing from the witnesses, the two will also be set free.”

Nandi Senator Stephen Sang said the ICC cases “started crumbling from the start after former Cabinet minister Henry Kosgey and former Police commissioner Hussein Ali’s cases failed, as well as following the the dropping of the case against Francis Muthaura.”

Sang said energy should now be channelled towards the dropping of the Ruto and Sang cases.

“I am very excited that the court has reconciled itself with reality that Kenyan cases were not properly investigated and not credible. The remaining cases will crumble too. These cases are just like two sides of a single coin and will equally come down due to lack of credible evidence and witnesses,” said Sang.

National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale, who was with Ruto in Kilifi, said: “Our position as Jubilee remains the same. The ICC cases are political and should be terminated.”

His Senate counterpart Kithure Kindiki said it was clear from the start that the cases were heading nowhere and asked the prosecutor to also terminate Ruto’s case.

Major (Rtd) John Seii, the former chairman of Kalenjin council of elders, said the region was happy with the withdrawal of the President’s case but cautioned that it was not time to celebrate until the DP’s case was dropped too.

“We are happy and excited that one case is down. We should remain united and peaceful, knowing that the other cases will also come to an end,” he said.

Major Seii warned that no one in the region should use the ICC decision to drop the charges to create a rift amongst Kenyans.

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