Barely 10 days to the General Election, Deputy President William Ruto has kicked up a storm, telling President Uhuru Kenyatta to focus on his candidate and leave him alone.
In an emotionally charged speech at a rally in Kapsabet, Nandi County, yesterday, Ruto said he had reconciled with the fact that the president is backing his opponent Raila Odinga of Azimio, but that should not be a licence to mention him in meetings.
“You should not be a source of threats rather than a uniting factor as you are going to retire. I’m not a man to be threatened, but if you don’t want to support me, please stop talking about me, talk about your Azimio presidential candidate,” Ruto said.
He said he supported President Kenyatta in 2013 and 2017, and asked him to let Kenyans choose their next leaders without threats and intimidation.
“I have heard you issued threats and mentioned my name, please leave me alone and allow me to square it out with Raila who is my competitor in the ballot,” he said.
Ruto, who was making a second campaign visit to Nandi in less than a week, said he would not be cowed by attempts to “intimidate and temper with the electoral process in favour of Raila”.
Raila and his Azimio team will be in Ruto’s backyard tomorrow for a series of rallies in the final lap of campaigns.
Ruto’s response comes days after the president reportedly met with opinion leaders, and elders from the Kalenjin and Kikuyu communities in Nakuru.
During the meetings, President Kenyatta implored the elders to support Raila and make right choices in the ballot. He is also said to have asked the elders to support independent candidates in the region to foster an alternative voice.
Sources who attended the meeting said Uhuru told them that his deputy had started calling him names and boasting that he was to take over immediately after the 2017 General Election.
A source said at least 200 leaders from Nandi, Uasin Gishu, Elgeyo Marakwet and Nakuru, including a section of Talai elders, attended the meeting.
“The president wanted us to assure him that the region will back Azimio la Umoja presidential candidate Raila Odinga in the August polls. It was all about his succession,” said a source.
In a separate meeeting with Kikuyu elders at his Gicheha farm in Nakuru County, the president is said to have revealed details of how the Arror and Kimwarer dams project was sabotaged, indicating it was done by some Cabinet members.
Yesterday, Ruto expressed disappointment that Uhuru had turned into a “vicious political foe”, despite the major part he played to ensure he ascended to the top office in the last two elections.
“I went out of my way to rally support for Uhuru in the past two elections, my supporters overwhelmingly voted for the president,” said the Kenya Kwanza flagbearer.
“Today, Uhuru has turned into my biggest political saboteur; he uses every means available to him to derail my campaigns.”
Ruto told the rally that Uhuru was “going after” his running mate Rigathi Gachagua and his other political associates in a further attempt to slow him down.
“I have borne threats to myself, but the president knows I am not a coward; he has gone after my closest associates and supporters, including my running mate,” he said.
The DP said President Kenyatta’s interferences were the biggest impediment in his campaign for the presidency.
He preached peace and calm among his supporters as the country moves to the final lap of campaigns, and accused Uhuru of going out of his way to provoke his supporters with his actions.
“I advise Uhuru to steer clear of this presidential campaign, his malicious actions to sabotage my campaigns are highly provocative to my supporters. I call on my supporters to rise above this trap and stay peaceful,” said the DP.
He national administration officers to guard against any push to interfere with the electoral process, while promising to improve their terms if he is elected president.
“As Kenya Kwanza, we follow the law and want peace for our people during elections. We are warning those planning to cause chaos and destruction in our strongholds deliberately to curtail voter turnout that they will not succeed,” he said.
Ruto termed the August 9 poll a done deal, and predicted a big win for his outfit, Kenya Kwanza.
“My opponent has no agenda for Kenya, they have resorted to political witch-hunt against me and my people. The election will be won by Kenya Kwanza,” he said.
Ruto was accompanied by Kenya Kwanza principals Musalia Mudavadi, Moses Wetang’ula, governors Stephen Sang (Nandi) and Jackson Mandago (Uasin Gishu) and a host of UDA MCA and MP aspirants.
Mudavadi advised the president to “stop interfering with the elections” and distance himself from political campaigns.
“Raila is remote controlled by Uhuru, Kenyans want a leader who has his own mind, not a puppet who will be commandeered by the sitting president,” he said.