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William Ruto: This is why I named Uhuru peace envoy for troubled region

President William Ruto during his inauguration at Kasarani Stadium, Nairobi County. [PSCU, Standard]

President William Ruto has explained why he appointed his former boss Uhuru Kenyatta a peace envoy, just days after defeating the latter’s preferred candidate Raila Odinga in a closely contested election even as he assured that he would not be dictatorial.

Ruto told France 24 TV during an interview in New York, where he was attending the United Nation’s General Assembly that he had no personal differences with Uhuru and that the election was now behind him. He said they were involved in a competition which was not even about the two of them, but the candidate the former President supported adding that having won this was not an issue now.

“What was between President Kenyatta and me was a political competition in which he supported another candidate against me, but I won the election, having supported me or not is not an issue since I am the President now and I want the best for my country,” said Dr Ruto.

He said what he wanted at the moment is the best for Africa and if someone could help him in regional issues as he concentrates in his work at home, that is better and that instability was a great concern in the region.

Not a dictator

Ruto also assured Kenyans that he will not preside over a dictatorial administration saying he believes in building consensus on issues.

“Those who have worked closely with me can attest that I am firm, focused and dedicated to my goals. That is why I am the President of Kenya today. I will maintain that in my leadership and expect those working under me to perform their roles,” said Ruto.

He, however, said he will not compromise over efficient delivery of service since Kenyans expect good leadership from him. The President said he will expect all those given various roles in his government to perform with dedication as they maintain integrity since he would like to transform the country for the better during his tenure.

Dr Ruto reiterated that Kenya had not changed its position on the Sahrawi Arab Republic and that it was in tandem with the United Nations position that every aspect of the relationship between Morocco and Sahrawi be resolved in a manner that will respect democracy

He said the Government was not divided due to his narrow margin win against Azimio La Umoja presidential candidate Raila Odinga as some people claim, since some will be in Executive while others will be in the Opposition. Dr Ruto said everyone had a role to play in the new government and promised that all regions are developed whether they voted for him or not since he was now President of the 50 million Kenyans.

“I am the best person to lead Kenya since my journey has been bottom up. I began as a Member of Parliament, an Assistant Minister, a Cabinet Minister and a Deputy President before landing my current position which is the highest office in the land,” he said.

He said despite his frosty relationship with former President Kenyatta he believed he will bring value to the peace processes in Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo since he had already played an active role earlier. The President has been on the spotlight after posting a tweet that appeared to suggest Kenya was revoking its recognition of the Sahrawi Arab Republic which has since been pulled down with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs releasing a statement affirming Kenya’s position on the matter.

The President said Kenyan troops who have been in Somalia for 15 years will come back home once peace is restored in the region and that Somalia President Hassan Mohamud has resolved to fight Al Shabab in the region which will pave way for the forces’ withdrawal.

“We are working with other partners to stabilise Somalia since instability in that country is dangerous to Kenya and other states since it has been a breeding ground for terrorism which we are committed to eliminate in collaboration with the new Somalia President,” said Dr Ruto.

The President said Kenya was concerned about the Tigray region crisis in Ethiopia since the two countries are the largest economies in the region and whatever happens in the neighbouring nations will definitely have far-reaching implications on Kenya’s well-being. Dr Ruto said he held talks with South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa, Ethiopia Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, former South Africa  President Thabo Mbeki and also former Nigeria President Olusegun Obasanjo on the framework to ensure that peace is maintained in Ethiopia.

Drought budget

The President said 3.1 million people are currently facing severe drought in Kenya where they have lost 70 per cent of their livestock, having not harvested any crops in the last four years. with the Government forced to provide them with food and water to ensure they do not starve.

“Many countries in the region including Kenya have been forced to re-look their budgets to address the drought issue, we have put aside Sh86.5 billion in the short term and we are looking for Sh500 billion for the long term to address this serious concern,” said Dr Ruto.

Dr Ruto said that African nations should be prepared to handle the situation calling on international lenders to support the continent overcome with the situation aggravated by Russia - Ukraine war, which has resulted in high food prices globally.

President Ruto has been out of the country for the last one week where attended the funeral service of Queen Elizabeth II in London before proceeding to New York City for the United Nations General Assembly 77th meeting.

The President has met various heads of state and governments on the sidelines of the UN meeting where they have discussed bilateral issues.

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