By Faridah N Kulumba
Africa-Press – Kenya. On 16 May 2022, Kenya organized a National Prayer Breakfast-themed “transition” in the capital Nairobi. Among the invited guests were Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto. The two top leaders had not been seeing eye to eye due to their frosty political relationship.
In 2012, President Kenyatta and William Ruto formed a coalition agreement with the ruling party Jubilee. They had an unwritten 20-year prenuptial agreement, in which Ruto would back Mr. Kenyatta to serve as president for two terms. After that Kenyatta would reciprocate by supporting his deputy to win the presidency in the 2022 election and he too would serve for two terms.
President Uhuru’s relationship with his deputy and his successor Ruto took a turn when Jubilee entered a pact with opposition leader Raila. On 19 March 2018, President Uhuru and Raila shook hands in a symbolic gesture that ended months of tensions following the disputed election in 2017 that gave Uhuru a second term. Popularized as the “handshake,” the agreement has caused major rifts within the ruling party since it ushered in the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI). Allies to DP Ruto accused Raila of “hijacking” the Jubilee Party for political interests, while proponents of the handshake and the BBI fault Ruto’s allies for curtailing Kenyatta’s initiative to unite Kenyans.
In October 2021, Kenyan Deputy President Ruto said the 2022 presidential race was framed between him as the Hustler of the Nation, and the ‘project of the system’ referring to the opposition leader of ODM Raila as the government project. Ruto expressed displeasure at President Kenyatta’s decision to back Raila for the presidency instead of him, vowing to defeat Raila just like he was defeated by Jubilee in the last two general elections.
Making peace with an enemy
During the 19th edition of the Annual National Prayer Breakfast, DP Ruto buried the hatchet and sent his boss a goodwill prayer message. Ruto prayed to Almighty God to give President Uhuru peaceful years after he retires from office of president in August. Ruto also asked Uhuru to forgive him for all his mistakes. President Uhuru welcomed the prayer by saying may the will and prayers of Ruto for him to come true.
Prayers and wishes
After Ruto delivered the peaceful retirement for his boss Uhuru, the Kenyan head of state also prayed for his country to be united after this year’s General Election like never before, and for peace and enjoyment in years to come. Mr. Uhuru also wished all the political aspirants the best of luck in the coming elections adding that there will always be one winner, hence should be ready to accept the outcome of the election.
Kenyans are set to cast their votes on 9th August this year. The hot race is between the number two in power Deputy President William Ruto and the leader of the opposition Raila Odinga for the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) who was endorsed by Kenyan President Uhuru.
Although the two Kenyan top leaders attended the National Prayer breakfast it is evident that a tiff between them was apparent. President Uhuru and his deputy Ruto avoided eye contact. As seen in the live stream of the event, Uhuru looked away when Ruto gazed at the place he was sitting and vice versa. Also their sitting arrangement, they did not share a table as it had been in the past before they broke ranks. Whereas President Uhuru shared his table with Chief Justice Martha Koome and Attorney General Kihara Kariuki, Deputy President Ruto sat with the National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi.
In August 2021, DP Ruto was blocked by immigration officials from flying to the neighboring country Uganda for a private meeting with President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, insisting that Ruto had to get clearance from Kenyan President Uhuru. One of Ruto’s ally a member of parliament, Sudi, explained that they were traveling to Uganda to borrow political lessons from Museveni’s National Resistance Movement Party (NRM) which has ruled Uganda for more than 35 years. However members of Raila Odinga’s Party Orange Democratic Movement reacted to Ruto’s act saying that they do not need to borrow from any other country’s political habits, whose end results can only lead to chaos and backwardness in their country, which has the most advanced democracy in the region.
According to them NRM records on human rights, democracy, governance, expanding civil societies, fighting corruption, and uplifting people from poverty are not worthy of borrowing.