President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday revealed that his deputy William Ruto was aware of every move ahead of his ‘handshake’ with ODM leader Raila Odinga.
Uhuru said Ruto had even participated in choosing some of the members of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) task force.
The president said he had kept his deputy abreast of what was going on, and noted that Ruto was part and parcel of the handshake process and even helped him identify some of the elders.
“If you doubt that he was aware, then ask him, he is here,” said Uhuru.
In a speech lasting 30 minutes, President Kenyatta stirred laughter in the room when he accused his deputy of forgetting his mandate and engaging in politics.
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“Politics is like a relay where one passes the baton to a team member, but my friend William has turned and is now running back to pick the baton,” he said.
Uhuru’s interaction with his deputy rekindled the camaraderie that the two enjoyed in their first term. At one time as they exited, Uhuru was seen pushing his deputy from the back jokingly and the two laughing over it.
After Ruto’s speech, Uhuru discarded his written speech and instead went ahead to give off-the-cuff remarks. Ruto had initially made a pitch for a relook of the BBI report, noting that a number of sections had issues.
Uhuru thanked Ruto for working with him even as he cooperated with Raila, but asked him to go slow on 2022 campaigns.
He noted that politics had robbed the country of time to develop.
“There is no country in the world that developed in a cycle of politics. If every cycle you spend two years before the election and another two sorting the political mess, it will be hard to build the economy and give youths jobs,” he said.
Uhuru also poured his heart out about his worries for Kenya, saying leaders must admit that our politics was ethnic.
He said Kenya was a tribal country and needed an honest conversation to correct it, noting that in every election people go back to their tribal cocoons.
“As a matter of fact we are tribal, we pretend that we are national leaders but when the time comes we switch to our vernacular,’’ he said, admitting he was once part of those who subscribed to ‘negative’ politics.
“Nyinyi msitundanganye hapa…hapa ukabila umejaa. We want to change the cycle so that our politics becomes positive,” the president said.
He said the country needs to deal with issues of inclusivity and ensure every Kenyan was part and parcel of the country.
Uhuru said the constitutional reform process started in 2010 after the promulgation of the Constitution that ushered in devolution.
He noted that the bulging number of young people, if not well-handled, could blow the country to pieces.
“We need to be very careful, we must stop this culture of using and discarding the youth. We must think of how we can systematically sort out their problems and enable them to be productive members of the society,” said Uhuru.
The event at Bomas coincided with President Kenyatta’s birthday with participants singing for him.
He began his address by recognising individually the committee of elders who participated in drafting the first and second reports.
He also recognised Raila for agreeing to work with him for the sake of the country’s unity and termed his gesture selfless.
“Things were getting bad, but when we sat down to talk, initially it was difficult but we agreed not to share positions but come together with the agenda of ensuring that the violence people have witnessed since 1992 would not recur,” said the president.
Uhuru said Raila never made any demand for a share of government but was eager to help him fix what ailed the country.
Uhuru called on Kenyans to read the BBI report and make an informed decision on the document that he said sought to bring peace in the country.
“My request is that when we are reading, let us look at issues that guarantee the prosperity of the nation, let us not entertain sideshows that are stopping this country from achieving its goals,” said Uhuru.
“Let us have a conversation that we must have, we want to improve on what we have, a good idea gives way to a better one; let us engage ourselves and also push for peace,” said Uhuru.