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Ruto: I have no apologies over my Uhuru-slapping remarks

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto at the Nyayo National Stadium on April 29, 2022. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

Kenya Kwanza presidential candidate William Ruto has admitted to almost slapping his boss, President Uhuru Kenyatta, when Uhuru, as Ruto alleges, almost gave up on the 2017 presidential re-run.

Ruto was responding to a leaked audio where he is heard saying that he came close to slapping Uhuru in 2017 after the nullification of the election by the Supreme court following a petition filed by then NASA leader Raila Odinga and civil society groups.

In the recording, Ruto, who was speaking to a group of Kikuyu elders at his Karen residence on Friday, is heard saying that Uhuru almost gave up on the presidency and was ready to go back home in Ichaweri, Gatundu South, prompting his anger.

But the Deputy President, while defending his remarks during a rally today at Central Imenti, Meru County, says he was only being a good and loyal friend. The deputy president and the president have been at loggerheads, exchanging brickbats sometimes without mentioning names.

"Hio vitu mnazungusha kwa maredio ati William Ruto aliskuma Uhuru Kenyata namna gani. Kwani mlikua mnataka Uhuru Kenyatta awache kiti tulikua tumeamkia saa kumi na moja awe Rais tuwaachie watu wa kuzimia?

"Ati mnarecord Ruto alimskuma President Uhuru sijui namna gani, kwani mlitaka President Uhuru awache kiti ambayo sisi tuliamka saa kumi asubuhi kumchagua ili awe Rais? Awache kiti tulikuwa tumemtafutia, awachie mtu wa kitendawili? Atakama nilimlazimisha awe Rais, iko makosa?"

His statement can be loosely translated to; "What should I have done? Let Uhuru concede defeat yet Kenyans had woken up at 5pm to vote for him? You wanted him to give up and let Raila Odinga be sworn into the presidency? Was I wrong to force him into the presidency?" he posed.

The Deputy President further said that he had traversed the country to campaign for the president and would not allow Odinga to easily grab the presidency.

"I was Kenyatta's biggest campaigner as I would wake up early and conduct three meetings before the president showed up. I helped him because he is my friend," Ruto added.

The Deputy President was responding after the Azimio la Umoja faction accused him of disrespecting the president in the remarks now gone viral on social media.

“Hayo maneno umesikia hapa deputy president akizungumza ni aibu kubwa sana… (It is an embarrassment for the Deputy President to utter such remarks),” Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka said.

“Anataka kupiga rais wa Kenya kofi jameni na akipewa majeshi na polisi atafanya nini… (If he can think of slapping the president, what would he do if he won the presidential election and became the chief of the armed forces)?" Suna East MP Junet Mohammed probed.