The unending battle between President Uhuru and his DP Ruto

President Uhuru Kenyatta with Deputy President William Ruto at State House in Nairobi on March 13, 2019. PHOTO/NMG
 

What you need to know:

  • At the centre of the war of words is succession politics, performance of the Jubilee government and alleged betrayal from both camps.

The tumultuous relationship between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto once again played out in public with the two going at each other over the weekend.

The simmering tension between the erstwhile political friends has in recent months escalated with the two leaders openly engaging in a string of political attacks.

At the centre of the war of words is succession politics, performance of the Jubilee government and alleged betrayal from both camps.

With the president and his deputy no longer seeing eye-to-eye, the verbal confrontations between the two have intensified.

President Kenyatta has in recent days openly shown support for Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition presidential candidate Raila Odinga, going ahead to publicly endorse him as his preferred successor, much to the chagrin of his deputy.

Clapping back, the DP has wasted no time in being critical of the Jubilee government while also reminding the president that he is occupying the seat of power courtesy of his support.

Calculative and showing open defiance, the Kenya Kwanza Alliance leader has always chosen the president’s Mt Kenya backyard to respond to his boss, telling him he is the man in charge and should be blamed for government shortcomings.

Further, he has asked the president to stay away from his succession and let him battle it out with Mr Odinga.

Dr Ruto’s allies have also joined the bandwagon attacking the president for what they call mistreatment and betrayal of his deputy and openly campaigning for Mr Odinga.

Together, they have accused the president and the former premier of being responsible for the economic woes facing Kenyans, turning the high cost of living and failures by the government as a campaign tool much to the exasperation of the Commander-in-Chief.

However, on Saturday while presiding over the National Council of Ushirika Day celebrations at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre, Nairobi, the Head of State renewed his attack on his deputy, castigating him for doublespeak.

Scathing in his attack, he accused the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party leader of absconding his duties and resorting to making noise around the country.

President Kenyatta said the DP has been moving around giving promises on what he intends to do if he wins the August election yet he has failed to deliver while serving in the government. “I am saddened when I see some people ever complaining about the failures of the government. Someone who has been given a task to serve the country, instead of performing his role, is just busy making noise here and there,” said the president. “All we are hearing is we will do this and that. Why didn’t you do it while you were in a similar position.”

Going bare-knuckle, the Jubilee party leader labelled his deputy a whiner who keeps on looking at the past instead of focusing on what he will be doing for the country, urging Kenyans to “think very hard” before electing leaders as the country heads to the August 9 polls.

“There is nothing you say about what you want to do for this country. All you do is complain, saying someone has taken your wife. If indeed your wife has been taken by someone please marry another one,” said President Kenyatta.

But in a swift rejoinder, the Kenya Kwanza leader told off his boss, saying he does not need his vote or help in his battle with the former prime minister.

“I am told President Kenyatta is angry with me because of the manifesto I launched the other day. Let him not get angry because I am not competing with him. I do not need your vote or help. Stop disturbing yourself, just stay aside and let me handle Odinga,” said Dr Ruto during a campaign rally in Tharaka-Nithi County on Saturday.

The war of words came a day after the DP hinted he could prosecute his boss for supposed constitutional failings should he succeed him.

Dr Ruto, while speaking during his manifesto launch, vowed to form a judicial team to investigate actions and policies of his boss should he win the August 9 election.

The DP indicated that he will reverse a number of Mr Kenyatta’s policies if elected, even indicating that they will not fear going after the President once he leaves office.

“We will form an inquiry into state capture and a tribunal on enforced disappearances and violation of human rights,” he said.

The UDA leader has also vowed to create eight tribunals, task forces and review panels to reverse some of the President’s policies.

Suna East MP Junet Mohamed blamed the UDA leader for falling out with his boss, alleging that a plan to impeach the president was the last nail in the coffin of a long-standing differences between the two . “The President has not yet spoken and when he starts doing so, Ruto will not have anywhere to hide. He might want to ask the ground to swallow him,” said Mr Mohamed.

For his part, Laikipia Governor Ndiritu Muriithi said the DP is just bitter because his boss did not endorse his candidature.

“The president is a voter like you and I and it is okay for him to have a choice and express the same,” said Mr Muriithi.

However, Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei, one of the DP’s close allies, said: “He (the president) shouldn't blame DP William Samoei arap Ruto for his non-performance in the government of high cost of living and failing economy,” said Mr Cherargei.

Tharaka-Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki went further to rope Mr Odinga in the government’s failure.

“The President and Honourable Raila, who has been the de facto deputy president since 2018, is squarely to blame for the economic woes facing Kenyans at the moment. Dr William Ruto was kicked out and his roles were assigned to other people. Facts!”

*Written by Collins Omulo

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