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Why I fell out with Uhuru, Ruto reveals in US

President Uhuru Kenyatta and DP William Ruto leave after delivering a statement to members of media at State House in Nairobi on September 21, 2017. [Courtesy, Reuters]

Deputy President William Ruto has, for the first time, admitted that his relationship with President Uhuru Kenyatta soured shortly after they won the August 8, 2017 presidential election.

Ruto, who concludes his tour of the United States on Saturday, March 5, has cited four reasons for his broken relationship with President Kenyatta.

In an interview with the Voice of America (VOA) on Friday, March 4, the deputy president summarised the causes of his dysfunctional relationship with the Head of State as: merging of the opposition with the government, removal of Jubilee leaders from Parliamentary committee seats, the quest to change the Constitution through BBI, and the plan to have Raila Odinga’s presidential bid endorsed by the State.

Asked for a straight answer on why he fell out with Kenyatta, Ruto told VOA’s Africa 54 host Esther Githui-Ewart: “History is going to be written one day, and I am sure [all] details will be out there.”

The deputy president said Raila Odinga’s entry into the ruling party’s political matrix after the March 9, 2018 handshake drove a wedge between him (Ruto) and President Uhuru Kenyatta.

“In our first term [in office], we were focused as a government on delivery of our plan. That is why our first term stands out. Every legacy programme President Uhuru Kenyatta will go home with was achieved in our first term. Whether you talk about the SGR, our road network, electricity connection, the equipment we have supplied to our referral hospitals, the TVET programmes… All those were achieved in our first term,” he said.

“In our second term, we got ourselves engaged in the handshake that was meant to be an exercise to bring people together. President Kenyatta informed me before he met Raila Odinga [on March 9, 2018]. In fact, before Raila Odinga engaged President Kenyatta, he had tried to engage me.

“There was no problem with the president’s efforts to build bridges with Raila Odinga. But the things we (Uhuru Kenyatta and I) agreed upon, as forming part of the handshake, mutated into something else.

“We didn’t discuss, for example, that it would be an exercise to kill the opposition and to kill oversight. We didn’t discuss that members of the ruling party would be jettisoned so that members of the opposition can occupy committees in Parliament. We didn’t agree, for example, that this [handshake] was an exercise to change the Constitution. And, we didn’t agree that this was an exercise to shape the president’s succession.

“Everything the president and I did not agree on, became the handshake,” said Ruto.

The DP claims that the briefing he received from the president was that the government was planning Raila Odinga’s retirement package.

“In fact, I had been informed that Raila Odinga wanted to be facilitated to retire,” Ruto said.

“And I remember asking [the president]: ‘Really? Do you expect… [Raila to proceed on retirement]’? We know him, and we know his games. And, I said that time: ‘I don’t think Raila Odinga is going to retire, I think he is going to talk about [changing] the Constitution’. And every fear that I had, has come to be,” said the deputy president.

Ruto says the antagonism between him and Raila Odinga is purely ideological, and that there was a time he, Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta were in the same political team.

“For your information, Raila Odinga, Uhuru Kenyatta, myself and many others started ODM together [in 2005]. We have been on the same side. But, when you work with people, you’d discover that there are those you can work with, and those you cannot work with.

“And, I absolutely have no problem with the handshake. The only problem I have with it, is it became what Uhuru and I didn’t agree it to be; and in the process, the people of Kenya lost. We lost the opposition, the ruling party, our government, the Big Four Agenda and our plan,” he said.

President Kenyatta is on the record saying that he has achieved more in his second term, than he did in his first.

During ODM’s National Delegates’ Conference (NDC) in Kasarani Stadium on Saturday, February 26, the president said he reached out to Odinga after DP Ruto made it “almost impossible” for him govern.

Kenyatta claimed the deputy president was sabotaging his projects and quest for national integration. The president previously stated Ruto was campaigning for his 2022 presidential bid at the expense of serving Kenyans.

Kenyatta has since endorsed Raila Odinga for president, stating that the country would be safer in his hands, than Ruto’s, whom he is accusing of condoning graft.