Support DP William Ruto in 2022, President Uhuru Kenyatta tells Mt Kenya

President Uhuru Kenyatta and DP William Ruto

NYAHURURU: President Uhuru Kenyatta has asked voters in his Mt Kenya bastion to support his deputy in the 2022 presidential election, even as he stepped up his campaign for re-election during his tour of Central Kenya.

Focusing on his succession in 2022, Uhuru was eager to dispel fears that voters in the Mt Kenya region would not back his deputy William Ruto’s bid after his second term expires.

In an apparent move to rally the region behind his deputy, Uhuru made it clear that he intends to hand over the leadership baton to Ruto.

On Wednesday, the President began his tour in Kiambu where he spoke at length about Jubilee’s plans to back Ruto at the end of his second term in 2022 with Jubilee viewing a 2017 poll victory as a foregone conclusion.

In a leaders’ meeting at Nyandarua Institute of Science and Technology and other rallies within the county, the President described Ruto as an able deputy and urged voters to support him in 2022 in a region where his party, The National Alliance (TNA), draws immense support.

“This is my brother who we have worked with for the sake of unity and development for all Kenyans. It is a journey that we started together and will finish together so that Kenyans can live in peace,” the President said.

“I have worked with this young man (Ruto) and I can assure you, my people, that he is capable of leading this country and carry on the Jubilee development agenda, not like the other guy who likes to lead in times of strife,” Uhuru added in reference to CORD leader Raila Odinga.

Uhuru said he had walked hand in hand with Ruto during their cases at the International Criminal Court at The Hague where they were both facing charges of crimes against humanity in connection with post-election ethnic violence in 2007/08 in which 1,300 people died.

“Ruto has promoted unity among different communities who live in Rift Valley. After my term comes to an end, I want you to support him take over the country’s leadership.”

Some members of the United Republican Party (URP) wing of the coalition have expressed misgivings about TNA’s commitment to support the Ruto in 2022 if Uhuru is re-elected next year and his final term expires. The fear is borne out of the perception that voters from the Mt Kenya region have never supported a presidential candidate from other regions.

However, Uhuru said Ruto had played a critical role in uniting communities in the Rift Valley and helping to contain the cycle of violence in the region. The President said the coalition would develop policies for the next 20 years.

“As a country we need development plans which span 10 to 20 years. Some development projects cannot be completed in a five-year term,” said Uhuru, who also urged voters in the region to support the soon-to-be unveiled Jubilee Party which will house all parties in the coalition after they are merged.

“I want you to support Jubilee Party and allow us to unite Kenyans. This is our vehicle which we will use going forward. We will work with all communities,” Uhuru said in reference to the political party he and Ruto will use to seek re-election in the 2017 poll.

The Deputy President, who was warmly received, said he would work with leaders from the region and described the opposition as rudderless.

“This is an area that I’m very well conversant with, and I like its people. I want to thank you the people of Nyandarua for your support and prayers during the ICC case, and I will not let you down,” Ruto said.

Leaders from the region who spoke at Nyandarua said they were ready to mobilise voters to vote for Ruto in 2022.

“We are are waiting for you (Uhuru) to give us the direction and we will mobilise support for Ruto’s 2022 bid,” said Nyandarua Senator Muriuki Karue.

He was supported by Nyandarua Governor Daniel Waithaka Mwangi who said Ruto would ensure that development projects commissioned by the Jubilee administration continue to benefit local people.

Ndaragwa MP Waweru Ndiritu described Ruto as a mature politician. “Why should we not support him? This is the right man to succeed Uhuru,” he said.

The President’s message to his people was welcomed by Rift Valley leaders.

Deputy Speaker Joyce Laboso said the move has sent a message that the Jubilee coalition was strong.  

Laboso said the President’s message was meant to allay fears that the two leaders have not been working together.

“It was meant for the doom-sayers who have always envisaged division between the two leaders. It is now clear the two leaders are working together,” Laboso said.

Bomet East MP Bernard Bett said the statement was a strong message to URP rebels who have claimed  that Ruto had lost favour with the President. 

“The affirmation has demonstrated that the two leaders are not only ready to unite their political supporters, but also the entire country,” Bett said.