Ruto explains why he backed Uhuru in 2013 despite the odds

President Uhuru Kenyatta (right) with his deputy, William Ruto, at State House, Nairobi. July 21, 2015. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Deputy President William Ruto has for the first time shared his predicament and that of President Uhuru Kenyatta prior to their 2013 presidential bid.

Dr Ruto made the revelations during a closed-door meeting with residents of Njoro and Molo constituencies to shed light on the challenges one faces when seeking the presidency.

The DP, on Monday, said the race to the country’s top seat was full of deceit, backstabbing, propaganda, and all manner of dirty tricks.

Journalists were barred from the meeting, but this writer sneaked in and listened to what Dr Ruto termed sensitive matters.

During the more than five hours of the meeting, the DP explained why he chose to support President Kenyatta.

In the run-up to the 2013 presidential election, Mr Kenyatta, Dr Ruto, ODM leader Raila Odinga, Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka and Defence Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa were among those considered front-runners.

“In 2012, President Uhuru, Raila Odinga, myself, and other leaders had announced their interest to vie for the seat, but there came a time I asked myself where my candidature would put me. I realised Uhuru and Raila might defeat me. Most likely I was going to be number three,” he recalled.

He said being number three, he knew he was better placed to determine the outcome of the elections, and resolved to meet with Mr Kenyatta.

“Looking at the country’s politics after the 2007 General Election, the biggest problem when it reaches there, the most affected is Rift Valley people. I sat down with my friend Uhuru and held a discussion,” he said.

Dr Ruto said in their discussion, he informed Uhuru that if they decided to go it alone, they would have continued to divide the people.

The DP believed that even if they failed to win, they would have united communities. He said many people were asking themselves how the Kalenjin community ended up voting for Mr Kenyatta.

President Uhuru Kenyatta with William Ruto on the campaign trail at Maua town, 2013. [GEORGE MULALA, Standard]

“I had a chance to support Raila because it was obvious if I supported him he would have won. The same would have happened if I supported Uhuru. It was easy for me to support Uhuru,” he added.

Dr Ruto said he then informed Mr Wamalwa of his interest in supporting Uhuru. But the Defence Cabinet Secretary, who had declared interest in the top seat, argued that it was time for another community to ascend to power.

“I asked Eugene: Uhuru aside, can you even defeat me? We even tried asking him that we unite, and that we would offer him a post, but he declined,” Dr Ruto said.

He said they also approached Mr Musyoka and asked him to back them and informed him of the troubles they were facing, including the post-election violence case at the ICC.

“Kalonzo told us he is an international lawyer. He said the two of us would be imprisoned for about 10 years, and instead asked us to support him to be president. He said when done with his 10 years, we would be out of jail,” said Dr Ruto.

The DP said before he could get back to his car, he received a call from President Kenyatta. “He asked me: That man has said we will be imprisoned? He said how many years? I told him 10,” said Dr Ruto.

The DP reiterated that he sacrificed his presidential ambitions in favour of Mr Kenyatta, but promised not to spoil the investment he had made to have the country realise peace.

“I made the sacrifice for my brother Uhuru so that we win and have more peace,” he said.

Ruto assured the Njoro and Molo residents of peace during and after the August 9 General Election.

During the meeting, speakers told the DP all they wanted was to be assured they would not be forced to exile after the polls.

President Uhuru Kenyatta addressing supporters outside Harambe House, 2014. Left, DP William Ruto. [Govedi Asutsa, Standard]

The residents had called for the meeting to explain to Dr Ruto their fears and why they were not fully backing the UDA flag bearer for president. “We want you to assure us that we shall be safe, our property will be safe during and after elections,” said Mr Peter Gikonyo.

The locals said they had been victims of election violence every electoral period.

Susan Wanjiku, another resident, said: “We don’t want you to go looking for employment for us, we do all jobs we can find. What we need is peace that we may move from one place to another and work for our children.”

Ms Wanjiku told Dr Ruto and his team not to promise them what they would not deliver.

The DP assured locals that the journey to ending politics of hatred started in Nakuru.

He said since he joined hands with President Kenyatta in 2013, peace had prevailed.