September 21st 2017

Top Stories / 2017 Elections

When Uhuru ordered Ruto to keep ‘2022’ out of current campaign

“The president sat his DP down and drew a red line. ‘I don’t want to hear any more talk about 2022’, he said. And that was the end of the subject,” the source informed us, saying the meeting took place a few days before the Jubilee leaders’ meeting at the Bomas of Kenya.

By Free Press Reporternewsdesk@kenyafreepress.comWednesday, 22 Feb 2017 08:41 EAT

President Uhuru Kenyatta with his deputy William Ruto.

Until the Sunday Nation reported of the “storm” in deputy president William Ruto’s political camp over a secret deal between President Uhuru Kenyatta and former president Daniel arap Moi’s family, the growing rift between the two top leaders had somewhat remained beneath the media’s radar.

This website reported more than three weeks ago that the president’s re-election election strategy would entail whittling down DP Ruto’s role in the campaign and government generally, but still hadn’t got the full outline of the strategy which is still a well-guarded secret. We can reliably report that reducing Mr Ruto’s role in Uhuru’s re-election campaign has been on the cards since at least 2015 when intelligence services began informing the president about rising contempt for the DP among large swathes of Kenyan society – including professionals, members of the business community, swing voters and elites in Ruto’s own Kalenjin community.

President Kenyatta, according to well-placed Jubilee sources, has struggled with how to cut the DP down to size during much of the period but was hesitant to ruffle feathers of his main political ally. He also believed that the DP’s combative politics was in his own advantage. But differences between the two leaders only grew, centering on how much Jubilee should reach out to opposition supporters, an effort Uhuru attempted through travels to opposition regions and appointment to government jobs of people from areas like Nyanza, Western, Coast and Ukambani. 

According to our sources, Mr Ruto strongly rejected the initiative, insisting that Jubilee should maintain its strategy of keeping the Kikuyu and Kalenjin votes under lock. But concurrently, he launched an aggressive campaign in the opposition areas to sell his 2022 candidature, rubbing not only the president but also voters in those areas the wrong way.

He, for example, said, some believe condescendingly, that the Luyia community had clueless leaders who didn’t know how to kujipanga (pursue power). “While the president was nursing the Jubilee Coalition, the DP was recruiting a choir of supporters from Coast, Ukambani and even Central Kenya and positioning himself for 2022 elections,” said one source, identifying members of the Ruto-for-president-2022 choir as including majority leaders in the senate and national assembly Kithure Kindiki and Aden Duale.

Concomitant to planting allies, the DP identified enemies, “who happened to be any leader with local support in his region who could not sing the DP’s praises. This is how we ended up with so many leaders like Governor Peter Munya and Samuel Ragwa who thought they were being fought by the Jubilee government,” the source added.

As the DP was championing his 2022 bid, “he took it for granted that we have an election in 2017 for which the president would be judged by his five-year record,” our source said, explaining that significant voters in Jubilee strongholds like Mandera, Narok, Kajiado, Samburu, Isiolo, West Pokot and Baringo felt they were being taken for a ride.

“Ruto would go to a region, plant leaders and make empty promises about projects the government had budgeted for (tumetenga), then one, two years down the line the people would begin agitating for his long list of promises,” another sources said. In Central Kenya, the DP is alleged to have recruited leaders such as Muranga governor Mwangi wa Iria, to whom he sold the idea that Muranga was the only one of the original Kikuyu districts (with Nyeri and Kiambu) that had not produced a president and whose term should come with a Ruto/Wa Iria ticket in 2022.

The coming into the Muranga governorship race of Uhuru’s ally Jamleck Kamau was reportedly a response to the DP’s gameplan. “And more than that, he also got a taste of his own medicine when Peter Kenneth joined the Nairobi gubernatorial race. The message is, yes, the Muranga people deserve the presidency, but their best bet is Peter Kenneth, who would seek the office after Uhuru”.

Mr Kenneth’s candidature in Nairobi didn’t go down well with Ruto, and the DP has held meetings with Kenneth’s opponents to plot the former Gatanga MP’s defeat. Other prospective Ruto supporters include Speaker of the Nakuru County Assembly Susan Kihika, who is now running for the senate position. Susan wants to make history as the first elected woman senator.

By mid-2016, based on intelligence information, Kikuyu Council of Elders publicly asked the president to distance himself from Ruto, but by then the DP had initiated the alluring project of merger of the president’s TNA party and Mr Ruto’s URP, which the president supported. The DP counseled, again with the president’s concurrence, that no other leader should associate with the Jubilee Party who refuses to dissolve their political party.

Within weeks, with Kanu and Chama cha Mashinani of Bomet governor Isaac Ruto refusing to dissolve, it became apparent that the policy was nothing more than a dictatorial stick for Ruto to close the door on his opponents from the Rift Valley. “The policy was designed to put KANU under check, for Gideon Moi remains his most potent threat in Kalenjin politics,” this website was informed.

With so many questions hanging on the president’s head, it was only a matter of time before he began confronting the DP, and our source indicated that an opportunity presented itself soon after the Jubilee parties’ merger. “The president sat his DP down and drew a red line. ‘I don’t want to hear any more talk about 2022’, he said. And that was the end of the subject,” the source informed us, saying the meeting took place a few days before the Jubilee leaders’ meeting at the Bomas of Kenya.

While Uhuru was toying with how to bring Gideon fully into Jubilee, former Nominated MP Mark Too passed away. At his funeral, Uhuru saw the recklessness of Mr Ruto’s supporters such as Mr Duale who, in a bid to belittle Gideon Moi, ended up insulting the former president. Days later, under pressure from the president, he was forced to apologise to Mzee Moi.

But the president also observed that, contrary to popular belief, there was much anger Mr Ruto and his allies, and respect for Gideon Moi whose address at the funeral were sound and very well received by the mourners. “From there, it was a matter of when and how, not if, he would bring Gideon Moi into Jubilee,” our source said, explaining that Uhuru relied on the senior Moi’s guidance on how to manage Ruto’s objections.

"Moi had dispensed with a vice president at a critical hour,” said the source, referring to the former president’s dressing down of his then deputy George Saitoti during the Kanu-NDP merger at Kasarani in March 2002. Accordingly, Moi told Uhuru that he was the president and he must personally determine what he stood to lose or gain by taking a radical step against Ruto, who is a master mobiliser and retains support among many in the Kalenjin community.

“What the Moi-Uhuru rapprochement has established is the primacy of the presidency and the fact that Ruto is not indispensable or a co-president. He will definitely remain Uhuru’s running mate but he should know his place,” a source told this website.

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