The 2022 succession battle is promising to be a nasty political combat pitting President Uhuru Kenyatta against his restive deputy William Ruto.
The DP is gearing up for the big political war even after it emerged Uhuru is determined to unite the Nasa top brass to face him as a joint force.
But a bold Ruto is not afraid to contradict or even rebuke his boss as his allies dig in.
In an almost coordinated fashion, Ruto’s troops took turns on Friday to challenge the President to relinquish power at the end of his tenure next year.
“We are just 13 months away, I want to ask that we respect the constitution as our guiding book as we go to the elections. It should be a peaceful transition,” said Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa.
In an interview on KTN on Thursday night, Ruto accused the Head of State of trying to use “state power and influence” to amend the constitution through BBI.
He said the move by the President and his handshake partner Raila Odinga would be “very dangerous” for the country and lauded the courts for stopping the process.
“It cannot be that you can change the constitution the way you want, in the manner in which you want, to the extent you want, because you have power, you have influence and you can use a mechanism,” Ruto said.
He went on: “…the next person with power, with influence and with money can come and change this constitution in a manner that it will never be recognised and create a monarchy or a dictatorship.”
The President has argued that the push to amend the 2010 constitution is aimed at uniting the country, addressing political and economic exclusion and dealing with the cycle of electoral injustice.
Ruto also suggested that Uhuru’s failure to appoint the six judges was unconstitutional.
But the President has also been throwing punches and the political battle is likely to get murkier as the 2022 race beckons.
The President had two weeks ago claimed that his first term was rocked by massive graft and that he was able to deliver in his second term after he dropped thieves.
The President has previously declared that he would not handover to thieves, a statement that rubbed Ruto and his troops the wrong way.
But while the President said he has performed better in his second term while working in the handshake arrangement, Ruto claims Jubilee’s remarkable record collapsed after he was shoved away from government.
The DP claimed much of the legacy with which the president prides in, was planned and executed during Jubilee’s first term when he was at the centre of government planning.
“I was part, to a large extent, of what happened in the first term and in my rating, we did very well in our first term,” Ruto said. “I can tell you for free that if I had the same latitude as I did in our first term, the story would be very, very different.”
An unapologetic Ruto said the second term was hijacked by ulterior interests like constitutional changes that were not part of Jubilee’s initial plan, derailing the development agenda.
As the DP maintained that he will work on a different economic model to revive the country’s fortunes, his allies asked Uhuru to handover power peacefully when he retires next year.
The Tangatanga MPs who spoke in Nakuru during the consecration of the new country leader of the Gospel Churches of Kenya said a peaceful handover was critical to guarantee peace and stability of the country.
South Mugirango MP Silvanus Osoro said as the Full Gospel church faithful picked their new overseer—David Macharia—peacefully, Kenyans should also be allowed to decided on their 5th president.
“When the times comes we should leave office without changing the constitution. It will be upon Kenyans to make the final decision on their next president,” he said.
Kandara MP Alice Wahome said the Kenyan people’s choice at the ballot should be respected and those in power transit peacefully as the constitution requires.
The DP’s bold and bare-knuckle remarks and the calls for a peaceful handover of power appears to set the stage for a bruising battle next year likely to marred by personal attacks.
The sharp differences between Uhuru and Ruto highlight the building tensions between them and their allies in what would make the 2022 campaigns nastier and ugly.
According to Ruto, most of the big achievements of the Jubilee government including the SGR, were done between 2013 and 2017 when he worked closely with the President.
For instance, Ruto claimed, he engineered the classification of roads that Jubilee used to roll out what he termed a “robust road network in Kenya”.
“The whole concept of changing the building code, I sat in my boardroom with Micahel Kamau (former Transport CS), Engineer Mosonik (ex-Principal Secretary Infrastructure) and then director general of Kerra and that is how we arrived at the categories of roads,”Ruto said.
During the second term, the DP said, the President believed in other people whom he decided to work with to build on the gains made in the first term, but unfortunately the performance has been dismal.
The President has since his handshake with Raila in 2018 relegated the DP and resigned his roles to Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, the Super Minister in the president’s cabinet.
In January 2019, Uhuru issued an Executive Order that allowed Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi to take charge of the implementation and monitoring of all development projects initiated and funded by the national government.
“We achieved so much. We build the standard gauge railway we build 10,000km of tarmac, we connected million people to electricity, we did 140 technical training colleges, we did not change any law, we just worked on the policy,” Ruto said.
-Edited by SKanyara