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DP Ruto still a political lightweight compared to me – Raila Odinga

ODM leader Raila Odinga and DP William Ruto at a past event. [File, Standard]

Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga has described Deputy President William Ruto as a “political lightweight”.

Speaking at Kanga Primary School in Rongo, Migori County on Thursday, March 3, the ODM chief said he was confident that he will defeat Ruto in the August 9 presidential election.

“Ruto has been fighting me politically. I held his hands, and realised that he still has a long way to mature fully in politics. I am confident to beat him in the August general election,” Raila said during the burial of Jared Osiany, the father of Industrialisation Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) David Osiany.

“I’m asking Ruto stop chest-thumping [that he is miles ahead of me in the quest to become president]. He still has a long way to go in politics,” said Raila, adding: “The only thing I see in him is an insatiable appetite to clinch the presidency.”

The former prime minister referred to the deputy president as his “political protégé”.

“If he believes he is man enough, then let him face me in the August 9 presidential election. That day it would dawn on him that he was my [political] student.”

The ODM boss said this time around he is sure that his march to State House is unstoppable.

“Prepare for my grand march to State House. My competitors do not mean well for this country; they only want to worsen Kenya’s economic situation.”

Raila said he was in talks with a number of political parties to strengthen the Azimio la Umoja movement, which has so far roped in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party, Wafula Wamunyinyi’s Democratic Action Party of Kenya, among others.

“We can only win convincingly when we have everyone on board,” said Raila, urging the locals to show up in large numbers during the August 9 polls.

Raila was accompanied to Kanga by, among others, governors Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega), Anyang’ Nyong’o (Kisumu); Migori Senator Ochillo Ayacko and Suna East Member of Parliament Junet Mohamed.

In his speech, Junet said Azimio la Umoja movement was growing by the day, urging those unsure of the better political coalition between Azimio la Umoja and Kenya Kwanza to join the Raila-led outfit.

After attending the burial in Kanga, Raila left for political rallies in the neighbouring Kisii and Nyamira counties.

Raila Odinga and William Ruto, who is currently on a United States tour, worked together in the run-up to, and briefly after the 2007 General Election when the deputy president was serving as Eldoret North Member of Parliament.

The two would, in 2010, fall out over maize scandal implicating the deputy president, who was serving as Agriculture minister at the time.

Raila, a prime minister then, suspended Ruto from Cabinet in February 2010, but President Mwai Kibaki quashed the decision.

Ruto would later lodge campaigns against Raila Odinga for inspiring the eviction of at least 20,000 families from the Mau Forest. At the time, the Grand Coalition Government said it made the decision to protect the water tower that serves at least ten million Kenyans.

After the 2007/2008 post-election violence, Ruto was charged in The Hague over his alleged involvement in the skirmishes. He accused Raila of engineering his arraignment in the Netherlands, claims the former prime minister vehemently denied.

Ruto would, in the lead-up to the March 4, 2013 General Election, team up with his co-accused Uhuru Kenyatta to form a joint pair against Raila Odinga’s presidential candidature.

The duo would go ahead to win the presidential election, defeating the pair of Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka by more than 800,000 votes.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) dropped charges against Uhuru Kenyatta in December 2014, and those against William Ruto in April 2016.

The two were facing charges of crimes against humanity over their alleged involvement in the 2007/2008 post-poll chaos.

Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto have since fallen out, with the former vouching for Raila Odinga in the upcoming general election.