Raila, Ruto make rounds abroad to gain acceptability before polls

Deputy President William Ruto speaks on the challenges facing the upcoming General Election in Kenya at Chatham House, London, UK on March 7, 2022. [DPPS, Standard]

Almost as soon as Deputy President William Ruto jets back after what has been an eventful two weeks in the US and UK, his competitor ODM leader Raila Odinga will also leave the country for his own tour abroad. Like Dr Ruto, Mr Odinga will give a talk at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House as well as have a meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby (pictured).

“Good to meet William Ruto this afternoon, and looking forward to seeing Raila Odinga next week. Praying for peaceful, open, and credible elections on 9 August,” Archbishop Welby tweeted, and posted a picture of him and Dr Ruto. He is no stranger to Chatham House, the former Prime Minister gave his own talk titled Kenya’s Next Test: Democracy, Elections and the Rule of Law in October 2017 as he and his supporters were in the midst of a boycott of the repeat election.

Chatham House prides itself as a world-leading policy institute with a mission to help governments and societies build a sustainably secure, prosperous and just world.

Dr Ruto has been in Washington, DC, and London over the past ten days on the invites by senior government officials and top policy institutes.

While in the US, the DP shared his thoughts on foreign policy, democracy and governance, and expound his economic vision for Kenya and Africa. He spoke at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP) and in UK. 

President Kenyatta was at Chatham House in April 2018. This came just a month after he and Raila announced their rapprochement to the world, Uhuru giving assurances that he was not opening a new political front.

“My reaching out to The Honourable Raila Odinga and the Opposition after our elections must be seen in this context, and not one of opening a new political front,” he said.

Dr Ruto went to the same venue almost four years later with a gripe. Reaching out to Raila was actually creating a new political front.

The topic of Ruto’s speech was titled a discussion on the future of governance and economic development in Kenya, East Africa, and the African continent. Analysts argue that by sharing their vision with the international community the leaders hope to win their support and reassure those who might be worried of a regime change.

Macharia Munene, a professor of history and international relations at the United States International University (USIU),said the purpose of making appearances and giving talks at respected think tanks was to gain acceptability. “It is a normal strategy in every country for politicians to be seen mingling with the big boys,” he said.

He noted that some of the politicians went as far as asking to be invited to give the lectures. 

The Carnegie Africa Programme provides analysis and insights on the economic, political, and transnational issues shaping Africa’s future. The UK has significant stake in the East Africa region and Kenya is especially important to UK foreign policy.