Ruto puts on brave face after Kibra defeat, Sagana setbacks
By Emeka-Mayaka Gekaraand Eric Wainana
President Uhuru Kenyatta’s restated commitment to the Building Bridges Initiative at the meeting with Mt Kenya leaders in Sagana State Lodge on Friday and his open praise for the just-concluded Kibra by-election’s outcome, have left Deputy President William Ruto politically wounded.
Though the DP presents himself in public as calm and collected, his social media comments project him as a bitter and wronged man, especially in the wake of his loss in the Kibra contest.
But even as he intensifies his hostility for the March 2018 Handshake between Uhuru and opposition leader Raila Odinga, the Orange Democratic Movement party yesterday sought to add insult to Ruto’s injury.
In a statement, the party backed the outcome of the Sagana meeting, whose resolutions appeared to isolate Ruto.
“We wish to thank President Uhuru for remaining focused on the Handshake and BBI which are fundamental instruments to remake the nation,” party chair John Mbadi said in a press statement.
“We also thank the President for seeing the recent Kibra by-election for what we in ODM thought it was—a strong indication that with unity and interest of the country at heart a peaceful election is possible,” he added.
The ODM statement seemed to reinforce Uhuru’s view of the Kibra contest during the Sagana meeting, where he said though the Jubilee Party candidate lost, nobody was killed or property destroyed during the campaigns that turned into a supremacy war between Ruto and Raila.
In what came out as a bid to isolate the DP further, ODM reinforced the President’s view that choosing to work with Raila was not motivated by 2022 race.
“I called him (Raila) because things were getting bad, but I never promised him any seat (as alleged),” the President said on Friday, terming those opposed to the Handshake as “enemies”.
He also said those waging early 2022 election campaigns were “killing him when he was still alive”. He promised to personally market the BBI report once it’s released.
Yesterday, ODM urged Kenyans to remain focused on BBI “and the new Kenya we expect it to give birth to”.
“President Uhuru and his brother Raila have said it before and the President said it again in Sagana: The Handshake and the BBI are never about 2022 and any individual leader’s presidential ambitions. It is about Kenya and its posterity,” said Mbadi.
Uhuru’s endorsement of the Kibra poll could suggest he and Ruto were in opposing camps, especially because the President did no set foot in the constituency to campaign for his Jubilee Party’s candidate though he had earlier expressed support of him.
Yesterday, Ruto continued to insist Jubilee was intact even as his allies painted a different picture of the unfolding events in the party.
Speaking at Kiserian, Kajiado county, during a prayer service at Dominion Chapel, Ruto said Jubilee is intact and retains its mission to unite and transform the country. (see separate story).
Accompanying the DP, Kajiado Governor Joseph ole Lenku, MPs George Sunkuiya (Kajiado West), Joseph Manje (Kajiado North), Jayne Kihara (Naivasha) and Gabriel Tongoyo (Narok West), insisted they were firmly in Jubilee, and would support President Uhuru and his deputy in transforming the country.
Others present were Rahab Mukami (Woman Rep, Nyeri), Ndindi Nyoro (Kiharu), David Gikaria (Nakuru Town East), Rigathi Gachagua (Mathira) and Kimani Ichung’wa (Kikuyu).
“We do not want to expose the country to constant political debates that add no value to its development,” said Ichung’wa, adding that those waiting for the downfall of Jubilee were busybodies.
“Jubilee is for every Kenyan led by President Uhuru and his deputy Ruto,” said Nyoro. “The President and the Deputy President are one; and that was confirmed by Kenyatta last week in the Sagana meeting.”
Commenting on the controversy surrounding the yet to be launched BBI report, Nyoro said Kenyans would go through it once published and make an informed decision on the contents therein.
“If it is pro-people, we will definitely rally behind it. We will oppose it if it would be after enriching some few individuals,” he said.
Gachagua said he was aware of the President’s call for unity in Jubilee, and people behind the division narrative were those in the Opposition. “We have heeded to that call as we also rally behind Ruto as Kenya’s next president,” he said.
Kihara said “our duty is to work for Kenyans” rather than engaging in the politics of hatred. “The harmony we enjoy in Rift Valley today is a product of Jubilee,” she said.
Last Friday Uhuru met all elected leaders from the Mt Kenya region in Sagana, where he asked them to speak in one voice, and assured them his initiatives have nothing to do with politics.
While defending his unity pact with Raila, Uhuru said the move was aimed at bringing peace and has nothing to do with 2022 politics.
“I called him (Raila) because things had gotten bad but I never promised him any seat (as alleged),” Uhuru said.
During the meeting which was addressed in Gikuyu language, Uhuru told the leaders to stop bickering over 2022 politics, saying their noises in rallies and media shows had discouraged him from reaching out to them.
Local leaders have been entangled in wrangles which have split them between those backing the Handshake under the Kieleweke and Embrace on one side and Tanga Tanga and Inua Mama, both allied to Rut0.
Uhuru persuaded the leaders to end the groupings which have whipped up political emotions, and promised to hold another meeting with them next week in what pundits say is a sustained effort to deal with the disquiet.