Major boost for DP Ruto after Devolution CS Keter backing
Deputy President William Ruto’s presidential bid received a shot in the arm after Devolution Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter declared his support after remaining quiet about it for months.
On Monday, Keter broke ranks with a number of his colleagues, who have thrown their weight behind ODM leader Raila Odinga, promising to ensure the DP took over from President Uhuru Kenyatta after the August General Election.
In doing so, he became the first CS to publicly declare support for Ruto although he joined a growing list of Cabinet members who have refused to shy away from expressing support for preferred presidential candidates.
“I will support Ruto to be the Fifth President of Kenya. We have come together with him from 2006 and I will be with him until he becomes President,” the CS said in Kericho town during a rally graced by the DP.
United Democratic Alliance (UDA) Secretary General Veronica Maina yesterday told the People Daily they were waiting to officially welcome the CS to the party adding they were anticipating more high profile figures to join the outfit led by Ruto.
“UDA is a popular party. We are the most popular party in the land. We are expecting many more people to join us.
We are expecting a bumper harvest soon. If you look at most opinion polls we have remained ahead that is why you are seeing many hurdles directed at us. We expect many more to join us after February 9,” Maina said.
Keter’s declaration came after claims he had parted ways with the DP, claims that had circulated for long in private circles although none had addressed them publicly.
It had been claimed that the two had fallen out when President Uhuru Kenyatta intensified the crackdown on perceived rebels in the government two years ago forcing Keter, who was in charge of the lucrative Energy docket for a longtime, to side with the Head of State to escape any intended harm.
The President’s whip was aimed at those allied to the DP and a number of them including former Agriculture CS Mwangi Kinjuri were kicked out. Keter, however, survived the crackdown.
It was also claimed the CS had shifted allegiance to Kanu leader Gideon Moi whom they worked closely with in the energy sector when the latter chaired the Senate Committee on Energy.
Since that crackdown, the CS was rarely seen with the DP in public unlike before when he would attend most functions Ruto attended in the Rift Valley.
The CS acknowledged the existence of the claims that were threatening his anticipated bid for Kericho governor on Monday, although he dismissed them telling his supporters he was with the DP to the end.
“Those who have been saying Keter is not in UDA, tell them I am in UDA. Tell those rumour mongers I am in UDA,” he said.
To affirm their renewed friendship, the DP and his allies passed by Keter’s home in Chepsir, Kipkelion on Monday after the well-attended Kericho rally before they departed to Nairobi.
Senior UDA officials Duale, Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi, Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago and others accompanied Ruto.
The visit was an affirmation of a friendship tried and tested before as the DP seeks a senior political figure from the South Rift he could rely on as he prepares for a tough presidential bid.
After his declaration, Keter became one of the senior politicians from the region to support Ruto.
Former Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto is another senior leader who could be the DP’s South Rift kingpin but he has rejected demands to dissolve his Chama Cha Mashinani and join UDA.
Ruto and Keter come a long way.
The two trace their friendship to 2002 when they both vied and won seats on Kanu at a time the independence party was facing a brutal assault from the Narc outfit led by former President Mwai Kibaki. That year, Keter was elected Belgut MP while Ruto was reelected Eldoret North MP.
They moved together to ODM ahead of the 2007 elections and fully supported Raila’s bid for president that year.
They recaptured their seats and also became part of the Grand Coalition government following the deadly post-election violence that occasioned its formation.
Ruto was appointed Agriculture minister and Keter, energy assistant minister.
They were, however, dropped from the Grand Coalition government in 2010 following pressure from then Prime Minister Raila Odinga after they were implicated in graft and for opposing the 2010 Constitution.
Another ally, Aden Duale, followed them out in 2011 after also falling out with Raila.