How Raila, Kibaki conspired to deny Ruto DPM position

Friday, December 6th, 2019 00:00 | By
Deputy President William Ruto. Photo/PD/FILE

President Kibaki and Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga in 2008 conspired to tame William Ruto’s ambitions to become deputy prime minister in the Grand Coalition Government.

 The then Eldoret North MP had also wanted to be appointed Local Government minister in the government cobbled together after the disputed 2007 presidential election as well as the ODM deputy party leader.

All these positions were, however, assigned to Musalia Mudavadi, who was Raila’s running mate, and therefore the second in command in the party’s rank and file.

In his yet-to-be-launched autobiography Soaring above the storms of passion, Mudavadi, says both Kibaki and Raila appear to have discussed and agreed on who would be the two deputy prime ministers, and clearly Ruto was out of the equation.

“I also got the feeling that between him (Raila) and President Kibaki, there must have been some understanding about who would be the two DPMs, one of ODM and the other of PNU-Kanu. That is how Uhuru, for example, became DPM on the PNU-Kanu axis,” he reveals.

Polarising figure

While the prime minister’s post automatically belonged to Raila who had accused Kibaki of stealing his victory, the DPM positions were reserved for Uhuru Kenyatta, then Gatundu South MP and Mudavadi who was then Sabatia MP.

Though Mudavadi does not suggest the reasoning behind the Kibaki-Raila decision to stem Ruto’s ambitions, the Eldoret North MP was making the demands at a time he was seen as polarising figure following the violence that rocked the country after the 2007 election pitting the Kalenjin and the Kikuyu.

But even the party hierarchy and the 2007 presidential campaign, in which he was Raila’s running mate, favoured Mudavadi for the deputy premier seat, as he was the deputy party leader.

“There had been loud disquiet in both ODM and PNU when Uhuru Kenyatta and I were appointed Deputy Prime Ministers. William Ruto and Martha Karua stated that they thought they should have been the people to be appointed Deputy Prime Ministers.

Ruto also wanted to be appointed Minister for Local Government, a position that came to me while he was given the Agriculture docket,” Mudavadi says in the book.

Awkward signal

The Amani National Congress leader says at one time, Raila was caught between a rock and a hard place on who between him and “someone else” should have got the position, saying its seems he had also made promise to the other person.

Mudavadi says had the DPM position gone to Ruto, or someone else, it would have destabilised the party.

“During the elections campaign, we had marketed Raila as our President, with me as his running mate.

In the party primaries, I had emerged as the deputy party leader and I was accordingly the de facto deputy (president). Any appointment that did not reflect this would send an awkward signal to our supporters.

We had a political future to think about. He could not, therefore, throw overboard the pledges he had made in public,” he reveals. 

Ruto, who was a strong member of the party, and his allies from the Kalenjin community, which had delivered a substantive number of votes to the party, were also agitating for the deputy party leader’s post which was being held by Mudavadi.

The demands, according to Mudavadi, were debated and the party resolved to split the deputy party leader’s post and shared it between him and Ruto.

“I advised Raila that if it was thought necessary, we could split the position of the deputy party leader into two and allow Ruto to be one of the two.

I did not mind sharing the portfolio with him, if that was what would take to hold the party together.

Ruto was shortly after made a co-deputy party leader with me. This deflated the tension for a while,” he says in the 418-page book.

Fast one

Ruto, who was moved from the Agriculture docket to Higher Education before being sacked, later quit the party which was born out of the 2005 referendum. 

He had a short stint at the United Democratic Movement before he registered the United Republican Party (URP).

Before the negotiations for a unity government, the ODM wing which had vowed not to retreat until Kibaki relinquished power, had toyed with the idea of bringing in Kalonzo Musyoka — who had quit in a huff to mount his own presidential run — to up their bargaining power.

But what they did not know was that Kibaki had similar thoughts and he pulled a fast one on them by appointing Kalonzo his vice president. The latter had come third in the election.

Their mistake of not reaching out to Kalonzo and allowing him to work with Kibaki, Mudavadi says, would later be a thorn in the flesh in the coalition government when the Vice President and Raila engaged in supremacy wars.

While Kalonzo believed that he was the second in command, Raila believed that being the prime minister, he was Kibaki’s co-principal Kibaki and so the vice president was answerable to both of them.

“The Vice President, should therefore be junior and answerable to both of them (Kibaki and Raila). He should also be paid a little more that the Vice President,” Mudavadi writes of Raila’s thinking of Kalonzo’s position in the Grand Coalition Government.

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