Atwoli: I had told Azimio that if Raila lost I would decamp to Ruto team


President William Ruto having a word with COTU Secretary general Francis Atwoli during labour day celebrations at Uhuru Gardens in Nairobi on May 1, 2023. [Courtesy]

Central Organisation of Trade Union (Cotu) Secretary General Francis Atwoli has said his radical shift to back President William Ruto's government was not a surprise to the Azimio family whom he'd zealously backed in the wake of last year's campaigns.

He confessed to sharing with Azimio top leadership on his intent to shift camp should they lose to Kenya Kwanza which gave the Raila Odinga-led movement that had "deep state" support a run for their money.

"I told them (Azimio) that I am a workers' leader and would work with the government of the day for the obvious reason of fighting for the interests of workers. I was categorical that I would dump them should Ruto win," Atwoli said on Saturday in Khwisero constituency.

"Not only that, I am an elder and it's just natural that I work with the president and advise him where I feel like for the common good of the people."

He said he had worked with former heads of state, including Daniel Moi, Mwai Kibaki, and Uhuru Kenyatta and he sees nothing strange with working with Ruto.

Atwoli at the same time warned the opposition of an impending defeat in 2027 should they not put their house in order.

He said they had a solid opponent in Ruto who will not give them a chance at the ballot come the election year.

"Ruto is not a walkover, he is sober and never sleeps. As we speak he is planning for 2027 (elections) and if you cut in on him and are not well prepared he will wipe the floor with you."

The former Ruto critic was full of praises for the President, terming him a listening and considerate leader.

He characterised Ruto's recent acceptance of Cotu's invite to address a global workers' forum in Switzerland this week as a show of a listening leader with the interest of workers at heart.

"He is the first sitting head of State from Kenya to address such a conference. Initially, we had invited former President Kibaki but he sent his deputies Kijana Wamalwa on the first invite and Kalonzo Musyoka on the second," he said in Khwisero where Kenya Army Lt Colonel Stanley Oyiengo Ojango who died on June 6 aged 44 was buried.

The specialist officer who served at the Kenya Army Medical Corps Headquarters (Embakasi) was accidentally shot by a colleague in the course of duty.