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Why Uhuru, Ruto spat may not end any time soon

By Alberto Leny
Tuesday, February 16th, 2021
President Uhuru Kenyatta and DP William Ruto at a past event.
In summary

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s call for his deputy William Ruto, to quit instead of criticising the government they co-run from within, has finally exposed the deep divide in the Executive.

While Ruto has responded that he would not resign saying he respects the President and would continue working with him on their common agenda, analysts are painting a picture of an irrevocable split in the Jubilee Party’s top hierarchy.

Matters have been compounded by the harsh reactions to the President’s call and displeasure by Deputy President’s allies regarding their opposition to the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020 proposed in the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).

What could have prompted the President to blow the whistle on his erstwhile assistant is the apparent doublespeak regarding the BBI process which is before the county assemblies.

Ruto has openly displayed his opposition to the initiative spawned by the Handshake between the President and his once formidable rival, ODM leader Raila Odinga, who he accuses of bringing confusion to the ruling party.

Contrary to the Ruto axis perceptions, the Handshake and the resultant BBI has brought about an unprecedented tranquility in the country’s political scene, prompting the President to declare a “constitutional moment in Kenya’s history”.

However, Ruto has been a vehement critic of the Handshake and the proposed constitutional reforms envisaged in the BBI, to the charging of the President, prompting his latest broadside against the DP, who has embarked on well-orchestrated campaign for the 2022 presidential election.

Legislative hurdles Indeed the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020 now awaiting the endorsement by 24 county assemblies’ constitutional threshold of, is at the centre of the row in the Executive.

With President Uhuru and Raila rallying their parties’ MCAs to ratify the bill aided by a few sweeteners such as car grants, it is almost a foregone conclusion that it would surmount the legislative hurdles in the county assemblies, the National Assembly and the Senate.

All eyes are now on the county assemblies allied to the DP, who have been whipped into a near frenzy, to reject the bill as witnessed in the chaotic event at Baringo County assembly, where MCAs engaged in a physical fight during a session to debate the bill.

Whether the Baringo decision will be replicated in other county assemblies sympathetic to Ruto remains to be seen. That could be the waterloo for the DP since the pro-Uhuru and pro-Raila counties are likely to give the document a resounding endorsement, with Homa Bay, Kisumu and Siaya already in the bag.

The President has taken the personal initiative to campaign for the bill, mobilising his Mt Kenya region and stamping his authority in the biggest prize of all, Nairobi county, where he censured his deputy during a tour of various projects.

The capital city’s residents are already experiencing a momentum in development activities, with the acting Governor Anne Kananu Mwenda, enjoying cordial relations with the President’s appointee running the Nairobi Metropolitan Services Director-General Major-General Mohammed Badi.

As Raila’s ODM and Nasa allies join forces with their Jubilee counterparts to back the President and BBI, Ruto and his allied counties are walking on a tightrope.

BBI proponents are planning to mount a major civic education and publicity blitz in the coming few weeks, that is bound to rattle the DP and his allies across the country. [email protected]

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