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President William Ruto apologises to Francis Atwoli over harsh campaign period remarks

President William Ruto and COTU Boss Francis Atwoli. [File, Standard]

President William Ruto has apologised to Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) Secretary-General Francis Atwoli, over harsh remarks he made about him during the campaign period.

The president made the apology during a meeting with Western Region leaders at Kakamega State Lodge. He is on a two-day tour of the region.

In his apology, Ruto said he felt making such remarks about a person older than him was wrong.

“During the election, we said all manner of things, including insults. I said nasty things about Mzee Atwoli and as a young person, I feel it was wrong. I ask you to forgive me,” the president said.

On his part, Atwoli pledged his allegiance to the government.

He said that as an international leader, there is no way he can oppose the state.

“As an international leader, I go to many countries. Soon I will be in Tanzania, our neighbouring country for an event that the president will attend. If President Samia asks me how William Ruto’s government is fairing do you expect me to say that I am in Azimio so I am waiting for Azimio government?” he posed a hilarious question, sending the audience to laughter.

Since the March 9 handshake, President Ruto and Atwoli have not had good things to say about each other. Atwoli was a vocal supporter of Azimio leader Raila Odinga and would many times criticise Ruto’s presidential bid.

However, his tune changed shortly after President Ruto's swearing-in and has in the past asked Kenyans to embrace Ruto’s presidency.

Weeks ago, the trade unions boss led a group of Western region to State House for a meeting with the president.

He then revealed that they (the president and Luhya leaders) ironed out their political differences that stemmed from the fierce nationwide campaigns and agreed to work together under the current administration.

"We were discussing pertinent issues on national matters that concern us. The president received me well and we shared many light moments. I even admitted that I once said that trees need to be cut in Sugoi. He also admitted that he called me 'mzee wa nyororo'."