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Uhuru, Ruto present united front after storm in Jubilee

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto during a church service at Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church, Ridgeways, Kiambu County.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto continued to present a united front for the second consecutive day following a week of heavy politicking that exposed wide cracks within the ruling Jubilee Party.

The two appeared at a church function in Kiambu yesterday and had on Saturday attended the wedding of Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi’s daughter in Nairobi, where they had a hearty chat in what was interpreted as a public show of camaraderie, coming after a week of turmoil in the ruling party sparked by allegations of a scheme to isolate the deputy president.

For some time in the lead-up to last week's war of words involving their allies, the President and his deputy had not appeared in public together, giving rise to reports of a raging cold war, which was further lent credence by the angry exchanges between rival factions in the party.

Yesterday, the President, in a brief address, preached peace and unity, carefully steering away from politics. Mr Ruto, speaking later at the tail-end of the Mass, rallied Jubilee Party members to fully back President Kenyatta.

“The most important thing is peace and unity. There is nothing we cannot achieve, and achieve we shall because we are committed to bringing our people together,” the President said, alluding to his March 9 truce with Opposition leader Raila Odinga – a rapprochement that Ruto's allies have claimed the ODM leader was using to wreck Jubilee.

“This is the only way we can drive our development agenda. I ask each one of you to join us in this struggle for a peaceful, prosperous united country called Kenya,” the Head of State said.

Ruto affirmed his support for the handshake between Uhuru and Raila, who is seen as the DP’s main obstacle to his 2022 presidential ambitions.

“Today, the handshake is bringing every other Kenyan to the fold so as Kenyans we can work together for the future of the country,” said the DP.

On matters development, Ruto said he had faithfully supported the President on that front as he had taken an oath to do so.

It is an issue that fuelled the recent fights in Jubilee, particularly after Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria, who supports Ruto's quest to succeed the President, protested that the Mt Kenya region had been neglected during Uhuru's reign despite voting for him overwhelmingly, a statement he has since apologised for. 

“As deputy president, I’ve traversed Kenya in development matters as someone who took an oath to help the President and I have faithfully done that job. It was not only an oath to man but also an oath to God,” Ruto said, apparently defending his frequent nationwide meetings which his critics have branded premature campaigns for the 2022 presidential contest that could derail the President's legacy.

The two leaders were speaking during the inauguration of Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church Ridgeways into a full parish.

The President attended the inauguration of the church at the request of his mother, former First Lady Mama Ngina Kenyatta, in a mass presided over by Cardinal John Njue.

The duo emerged in public after a week of sustained politicking triggered by Mr Kuria’s remarks about perceived neglect of the Mt Kenya region, to which an angry President Uhuru dropped the ‘washenzi’ remarks, saying he would strive to develop every corner of Kenya.

And David Murathe resigned as Jubilee Party vice chairman, vowing to use all means possible to block a 2022 Ruto presidency, a position that infuriated the deputy president's allies.

This caused a sharp split within the ruling coalition with at least 13 press conferences being held across the country last week as political temperatures rose.

Ruto apologised yesterday for arriving late for the church service, saying he had been "misled" by Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu on the exact time the Mass was to start.

Other leaders and dignitaries present included Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti, Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen, Kiambu Town MP Jude Njomo, Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wa, Kiambu Woman Rep Gathoni wa Muchomba and Murang’a County Woman Rep Sabinah Chege.

There were claims that some of the Kiambu leaders had been caught by surprise at the President's arrival at the church, prompting a flurry of activities that saw them arrive late for the Mass.

Elsewhere, Ruto has lashed out at a clique of politicians out to wreck the Jubilee party through propaganda.

Naming names

Without naming names, the DP called on the group to leave the ruling party, adding that there was no leadership vacuum or crisis as alleged.

Speaking after a service at Joy Celebrations Church in Naivasha, Ruto said the party was fully behind President Uhuru and his agenda.

The service was attended by over 30 MPs and Naivasha legislator Jayne Kihara was allowed to speak on their behalf.

 

Mr Waititu termed the ongoing politics in Jubilee as "normal", adding that things would soon cool down.

Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui praised the national government for initiating several development projects in the county.