Deputy President William Ruto has said his boss President Uhuru Kenyatta is within his democratic right to support Raila Odinga.
The DP who was responding to Uhuru's sentiments yesterday that he [Ruto] was 'politically immature' and not ready to succeed him as president.
Ruto said he respected the president's decision but maintained that the Kenyan citizens would be the ones to decide their preferred leader in the August 9 polls.
"My friend, the president of Kenya has decided in his democratic right to support my competitor and I respect the opinion and the decision but I also know the president of Kenya is not my competitor," he said addressing Mwingi residents on Thursday.
"My competitor is Mr Kitendawili [Raila]. I ask him not to hide behind Uhuru Kenyatta. He must step forward and compete with me," said Ruto.
The DP said he had a proven track record which he hopes Kenyans will look at as they decide who will become their next president.
Speaking at Sagana State Lodge in Nyeri County on Wednesday, Uhuru asked Mt Kenya residents to fully support Odinga who is contesting on an Azimio la Umoja ticket.
“According to where we have come from, where we are and where we are headed, I want to ask you to hold the hand of the old man (Raila) and support him… the other young man still has time and we can support him in future…,” he urged.
At the same time, leaders allied to the Deputy President also reacted to Uhuru's speech.
Murang'a Senator Irungu Kang'ata called out the president over remarks that church leaders have been receiving funds that are proceeds of corruption.
Kang'ata maintained it was wrong for the president to talk ill of church leaders in such a manner.
"Deputy President William Ruto has only visited one per cent of the churches and talking ill of any church is very bad. Church leaders have not obtained any money by corrupt means," rebutted Kang'ata, a close ally of the DP.
Although Uhuru did not directly mention Ruto's name, he said it must worry everybody that ‘some people’ dish out huge sums of money in church gatherings and harambees.
"Church leaders should stop lying to Kenyans because they have received stolen money that was meant to construct the Arror and Kimwarer dams," the president said.
The Senator's sentiments were backed by Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichungwa, also a close ally of Ruto. Ichungwa said the president ought to respect religious leaders. "For heaven’s sake...leave our clergy alone. You can insult us but respect our religious leaders," Ichungwa said.
In addition, the lawmaker took issue with Uhuru's remarks that he had grown the economy from Sh5trn achieved by the Kibaki administration to the current Sh13trn.
"...Kibaki left us with a 1.8T public debt. Today, the debt burden is at 12T," he said.