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Deputy President William Ruto during the burial of Sergeant Kipyegon Keneiat Chamasisi Village in Solai, Nakuru County, yesterday. [Harun Wathari, Standard]

Sounding helpless at the top, Deputy President William Ruto yesterday turned onto the government he presides, accusing its leadership of elaborate scheme to finish him off.

In unprecedented gush of the pent-up anger with events of the past few weeks, Ruto claimed the murder of Sergent Kipyegon Kenei, a security officer in his office, was a double ploy to set him up against his community while also scandalising his office.

Speaking at the funeral, Ruto said the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) was part of the elaborate scheme to demean his office. He also accused unnamed government officials of boasting that he will not be around for long.

Well-orchestrated scheme

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The statements by the country’s ‘number two’ attracted pin-drop silence from mourners and got the whole country talking.

“The plotters of these schemes, I want to let you know that unless you kill me, I am not turning back. Kenya is for everyone. Kenya is not for a few people. Threats, plots… all these things… I even know what they have planned but I am ready for it,” he said.

According to the DP, Sergent Kenei was felled to frighten him. He said the only way to stop him would be death but also vowed Kenei’s killers will be brought to book.

He said Kenei’s murder is the latest in a well-orchestrated scheme to fight him. Brandishing his finger, and biting his lips, he vowed to surmount everything arrayed against him.

“They may have the system, and since the system cannot elect anybody, they can only kill but I want to tell them we have God. Those in this scheme are boasting that I will not be there soon and they are still walking around,” he wrote on his Twitter handle as soon as he left the burial.

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At the funeral, Ruto held a meeting with family members in which he assured them of personal and government support. He also explained his interactions with Kenei in the aftermath of the firearms scandal involving ex-Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa. 

“I am sorry that this young man had to pay the ultimate price,” he said.

In Kenei, he painted a picture of an innocent man caught in the crossroads of power play pitting powerful forces. Falling short of taking the battle to the doorsteps of his boss, President Uhuru Kenyatta, the DP said the guns scam was a manufactured scandal:

“This man lying here was my officer. He has died because of these things. My office has no relation with DOD. There is no Deputy Commander-in-Chief. There is only one Commander-in-Chief. There can never be a discussion of procurement of guns in my office.”

And to emphasise the veracity of his claims, Ruto invoked his position:

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“I know what I am saying… I am the Deputy President of Kenya, I am not a mad man.”

But there was more to this. Ruto claimed Kenei may have been silenced because he was the only person who met all the people involved in the fake guns’ tender and could have known much more about the botched scheme.

“The only person who could have told us the truth, because he met all the people involved, is the murdered Kenei,” he said.

He revealed that he had summoned Kenei to his office, alongside two other colleagues and their bosses. He said Kenei confessed to his role in the matter and promised to tell all to the investigators only to disappear a few days later.

Kenei was found dead on February 20 in his pyjamas in his house in Nairobi’s Imara Daima estate. An autopsy revealed that Kenei was killed by a bullet fired from a pistol to his chin a day or two before his body’s discovery.

What started out as an open-and-shut suicide case has since unraveled a tragic political story that is now threatening the core of government. Two days ago, DCI George Kinoti was categorical that it was murder most foul and fell short of blaming the DP’s office.

“I want to tell the DCI to do police work. Look for the truth. Stay out of politics,” DP Ruto said. “The DCI is being used to undermine my office and bring me down.” The Deputy President also pieced together his last interactions with Kenei, a man he described as an “outstanding officer”.

“He told me he was called and told that Echesa and his friends had an appointment at the office. That is why he allowed them to get into the waiting room,” the DP said.

“That was the last moment I had a discussion with this great officer,” he said.

He said he knew of Kenei’s death two days later, after it emerged that he was missing and after efforts to look for him bore no fruit. Notably, the DP did not use the formal channels of making such an inquiry such as calling the Inspector General of Police or other top cops.

Trusted allies

Instead, he turned to friends and trusted allies -- Lang’ata MP Nixon Korir and Water and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui -- to locate the policeman, and indication of just how far he thinks the system is rigged against him.

“Those who killed him will be found. Those who killed him will not know peace until they surrender or are caught and punished. Investigators should look for the cause and reasons as to why he was killed,” the DP said. “This must be known.”

Since the beginning of Jubilee’s second term, the DP has often been at loggerheads with a section of the ruling party who believe he jumped the gun by declaring his intentions of vying for the top seat with an entire term to serve.

His marshaling of support in President Kenyatta’s backyard of Central has also not gone down well with individuals thought to be close to the presidency and who believe that DP Ruto, through his canvassing of the country, is usurping power from the President, who also doubles up as Jubilee leader.

Inevitably, these perceptions have led to a split within Jubilee, with Ruto sympathisers believing that Uhuru supporters are using State machinery to frustrate and undermine their man at every turn.

And it is the system, DP Ruto said, that set his office up in the scandal linked to Kenei’s death. “Those who plotted this scheme of fake gun tenders, and instead of this being done at DoD, they brought it hear and involved this boy,” he said, before questioning the viability of the main suspects in the case being arrested barely ten minutes after leaving his office.

“If it was known that a plot was being hatched and it was being investigated, why did they allow it to be brought to my office, and Kenei killed?” the DP asked. It is this same system, the DP believes that is out to get him, and stop him at all costs. But, he says he knows what is coming. “I want to tell them to fight me and leave other people,” he said.

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William Ruto Succession politics Uhuru Kenyatta Kipyegon Kenei
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