What you need to know:
- There was rumour that Dr Ruto had developed cold feet over the trip over Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba’s controversial tweets about Kenya.
Kenya’s president William Samoei Ruto will be in Uganda tomorrow afternoon ahead of the country’s 60th Independence Anniversary, his team has confirmed.
The change in his itinerary by press time – if it remains so - means that Kenya’s head of State will miss the prayer breakfast, which he had been expected to attend tomorrow morning.
He had earlier been scheduled to arrive this evening and depart on Monday.
A member of the advance team last evening corroborated this. “The president is coming to Uganda only for Independence Day celebrations. He will arrive on Saturday for the next day’s event. That is all I am aware of,” the member said.
Multiple sources that spoke to this newspaper, who are privy to the trip, said Dr Ruto will hold bilateral talks with his host, President Museveni, upon arrival, then head to Speke Resort Munyonyo in Kampala for the Independence Day dinner, attend the Independence Day celebrations on Sunday, and leave the country that afternoon.
State House Uganda last evening told this newspaper that all East African Community heads of State had confirmed attendance of the Diamond jubilee fete slated to take place at Kololo Independence Grounds in the capital, Kampala. They were non-committal on other leaders attending the event, saying the confirmations would be received today.
The rumour mill had been grinding over the past few days that Dr Ruto had developed cold feet over the trip after Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, the former UPDF Commander of Land Forces, went on a Twitter frenzy; ridiculing Kenya for its democracy and sensationally claiming Nairobi would fall to his army in a fortnight if they attacked.
This triggered a major diplomatic tiff with Uganda’s biggest trading partner in the region.
President Museveni on Wednesday apologised to Kenyans and Ugandans over the tweets, a day after dropping Gen Muhoozi as boss of the Land forces before promoting him to a four-star general.
Dr Ruto, who was barred from travelling to Uganda at the peak of his acrimonious fallout with then his boss, President Uhuru Kenyatta, in August last year, will be coming to the country for the first time as head of State.
Mr Munyori Buku, a member of Dr Ruto’s presidential campaign communication team, last evening said: “He was blocked last time, but a man of destiny, a man on a mission can’t be blocked for long”.
The Kenyan head of State enjoys a warm reception in Uganda, especially in Sebei where his kinsmen the Sabiny live, and along the border districts from Karamoja to Busia.
In the run-up to the 2016 General Election, Dr Ruto – in company of then Trans-Nzoia senator Henry Ole-Ndiema, and then Narok governor Samuel Tunai – accompanied and drummed up support for President Museveni in Sebei. Just a week to the election, Dr Ruto’s men; Mr Tunai, Endebess county MP Robert Pukose, and Dr Ruto’s long-time personal assistant Farouk Kibet attended a fundraiser for schools in the three districts of Sebei.
During meetings between the Sabiny leaders in Eldoret and Nairobi in 2015, Dr Ruto had agreed to improve border security and school standards in Kapkoros in Bukwo, Ngenge in Kween, and Tumbaboi in Kapchorwa.
His point man in Sebei, Mr Anthony Kuka Cherotich, last evening said Sebei was expecting Dr Ruto to resettle Kenyans who fled to Uganda more than 30 years ago and have established pockets of communities across Sebei.
Another opinion leader, who did not want to be named, said: “The issue of insecurity, market for produce, and development projects top expectations. The region is marginalized; we don’t have serious positions in the Ugandan government”.
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President Museveni has in the past worked with Kenyan leaders to deliver development projects to Sebei.
In 1997, he green-lighted the tarmacking of the Sironko-Kapchorwa road after a close working relationship with former president Daniel arap Moi (RIP).
Again in 2018, when the Ugandan president went to Kapchorwa to launch the 77km Kapchorwa-Suam road, Dr Ruto was at hand to help flag off the works.
The construction is nearing completion. The two later participated in a fundraising drive for construction of Sebei Diocese Cathedral.
Kampala was also widely accused – without proof – of having a soft spot for Dr Ruto in the highly contested Kenyan General Election.