I am ready for talks with Uhuru Kenyatta, DP William Ruto says

President Uhuru Kenyatta, first lady Margret Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto after the memorial service of the founding father Mzee Jomo Kenyatta at the Holy Family Basilica in Nairobi on August 22, 2019.

The frosty relationship between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto has become subject of subtle political power play.

Ruto yesterday said he was ready for truce talks with Uhuru.

The DP did not give conditions for the talks in what could be genuine reconciliation or a clever political bait to his boss.   

“I am ready, the bishops have said they want to put us together with the president, I am ready to do that in the morning without conditions, because I respect the president he is my boss,” said Ruto.

In the court of political power play, all eyes will be on Uhuru as the country waits to see if it is headed back to days of similar shirts and ties.

Will President Kenyatta take the offer or will he decline? 

Should he take the offer, will he have agreed to bend over backwards.

By Ruto inviting Uhuru to the table, will he have become the proverbial bigger man in his dispute with his boss?

The bromance between the president and his deputy has in the last three years deteriorated to a point where Uhuru recently asked him to quit the government if he was not satisfied.

Because of the political bad blood between the two leaders, the Cabinet has not sat since February.  

Deputy President William Ruto and President Uhuru Kenyatta at Bomas on January 25, 2019. [File, Standard]

On Wednesday, the Catholic bishops said the deteriorating relationship between the two Jubilee leaders did not augur well for the country and they were ready to spearhead reconciliation talks.

The Conference of Catholic Bishops said they were concerned that if this open disagreement is taken up by supporters of the two, there could be dire consequences for the country.

Martin Kivuva, the chair of Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops, revealed that they have been very close to the Jubilee leaders and were holding talks behind the scenes. 

Ruto blamed his opponents for coming between him and his boss.

“You cannot come to squat in the government that you were never voted into. Those who have brought bad blood should wait for their time to get into the government.

“Let them go and look for power, but they will find us there,” he said.  

Speaking during a meeting with grassroots leaders from Kandara constituency at his Karen residence, Nairobi, the DP said they were given the mandate to rule by Kenyans.

In attendance were MPs Alice Wahome (Kandara), Kimani Ichung’wah (Kikuyu), Jayne Kihara (Naivasha), Rahab Mukami (Nyeri Woman representative) and Murang’a Senator Irungu Kangata and MCAs. 

Garissa Town MP Aden Duale welcomed efforts to reconcile the president and his deputy but said this does not mean that they are looking for an endorsement from Uhuru.

Welcome truce

“Those of us working with Ruto welcome the truce that he has offered to his boss.

“Despite what happened, we still respect Uhuru but we are not attaching any condition of the president’s endorsement like some who were looking for the Handshake so they will be endorsed,” said Duale.

He explained that Uhuru is retiring and Ruto wants to succeed him hence there was no conflict between them.

“The truce is welcome, but it will not deter us from seeking to form an all-inclusive government next year. Uhuru is exiting and Ruto is seeking to take the helm. We will stay focused even as we make peace,” Duale said.

The Garissa Town MP said that as people of faith, Christians and Muslims believe in forgiveness and the unity of the country. 

An ally of the president who sought anonymity told The Standard that he did not believe Ruto’s offer was genuine and urged Uhuru to adopt a wait-and-see attitude.

“Ruto is the one that has rocked the president, he needs to be genuine in his offer. He needs to repent and check his acts. He cannot be seeking a truce while at the same time doing the things that he is not supposed to be doing,” said the source. 

But a Jubilee leader said: “The DP has been all over the place, campaigning with outright arrogance when his boss is in office and even went ahead to host delegations at the Karen official residence amidst the Covid-19 ban on public gatherings. 

“The Bishops are getting it wrong. The person who needs reconciliation is the DP. They should talk to him. His character, defiance and proxy wars are enough to seek repentance. We don’t know the basis of departure between the two leaders, but it is him to change.” 

Another Jubilee leader said that the DP should change his ways and seek reconciliation for peace and calm in the country. “The president is human and will be ready for to sit down and talk once he has changed or else the chances are remote.”

This is not the first time the bishops are working to reconcile the Jubilee leaders.

In 2019, the bishops privately engaged the two but the matter was not concluded.

Political analyst Dismas Mokua noted that the Presidency is occupied by the two most powerful politicians in Kenya and there is valid expectations that they discharge their functions in a manner consistent with Kenya’s national and public interests.

He said any behaviour which is not consistent with national and public interests is a threat to national security.

“The intervention by the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops is most welcome and so is the pronouncement by Deputy President William Ruto that he is ready to celebrate a new beginning with President Kenyatta,” Mokua said.

“However, for the two to celebrate a new beginning, they must identify when and where the rain started beating them and dedicate themselves to serve while giving selfish interests a wide berth.”

Such a reconciliation and opening of a new chapter, he noted, will take place if only the two are genuine and have appetite to serve Kenya.

“Kenya is now witnessing the emergence of toxic politics that is characterised by fake news, alternative facts, lies and deceit.

“President Kenyatta and Deputy President Ruto hardliners and sycophants stand accused of toxic politics,” said the political analyst.

Mokua added that Uhuru and Ruto must call their hardliners to order so that toxic politics do not compromise reconciliation talks.

“Toxic politics is the biggest threat to the Uhuru and Ruto relationship alongside legacy and succession politics,” he said.

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