Ruto keeps social distance from key State function

Deputy President William Ruto (left) in Bumula Constituency, Bungoma County on Sunday. [DPPS, Standard]

Deputy President William Ruto was conspicuously absent during yesterday’s national Covid-19 conference that was presided over by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The DP was listed in the official programme as one of the speakers at the conference. He was supposed to welcome the President to make his address but he did not show up and neither was an apology tendered at the event.

Also listed in the programme was Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, Council of Governors chair Wycliffe Oparanya, Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka and ODM leader Raila Odinga, all who attended.

After their speeches, the President addressed the nation on the way forward.

When asked why the DP did not attend the conference despite him being listed as a speaker, Dr Ruto’s spokesman Emmanuel Talam said: “I don't know if he was invited".

Organisers yesterday said they had invited the DP to KICC, where the event took place.

“All government officials were aware and were invited. We invited all stakeholders, including the DP. He is the DP,” said an organiser aware of the list of those who received invitation cards asking them to be at the event's venue by 1.30pm.

The conference, according to organisers, was a State event, as even members of the diplomatic corps were invited. A number of them attended.

Security was tight, with a full police band in waiting for the President to arrive. Also present were various religious leaders, including head of the inter-faith council Anthony Muheria and medical practitioners and ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi.

It was the latest such meeting that the DP failed to attend. His officials did not explain his whereabouts, but other sources said he was at his official residence in Karen.

Ruto has been conspicuously absent from all critical meetings set to address the global pandemic locally. The President has since March made 11 addresses on the pandemic, as he unveiled different strategies to fight the disease.

The DP's absence sparked ongoing speculations of the worsening ties with Kenyatta.

Ruto has been on a campaign mode in the past days, bashing government and opposition figures over the planned unveiling of the Building Bridges Initiative report.

On Sunday, he was in Bungoma, where he repeatedly stated he would not be intimidated and would continue with his agenda of seeking the presidency in 2022.

The sessions started with the President opening it and setting the agenda before Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe led in responding to questions that were raised by moderators.

The moderators sought answers from various personalities, including government officials, on how the pandemic had treated them, as well as how money meant to fight it was utilised.