President Uhuru Kenyatta has defended his deputy, Mr William Ruto, and assured him of his support in his 2022 bid for the presidency.
This follows assertions by some politicians in the Jubilee coalition that the DP does not have their guaranteed support.
State House Senior Director for Public Communication Munyori Buku on Tuesday rebuked Mr Ruto’s critics for “wasting their time” in warning that the DP may have to sweat for central Kenya’s support in 2022.
“The President has been categorical about the 2022 Jubilee ticket. He has made it very clear that the party will fully back Deputy President William Ruto,” Mr Buku said in a brief statement.
“First, the President has explained that 10 years of his own term are not long enough to implement the grand plan Jubilee has for Kenya. He has pointed out this super plan needs about 20 years to implement.”
The statement was prompted by comments by Nominated Senator Paul Njoroge at the weekend that the DP’s visits to the central region added little value to President Kenyatta’s 2017 campaigns but were meant to push his 2022 agenda.
In an interview with the Nation on Monday, Mr Njoroge repeated the warning, arguing the visits could, in fact, cause conflict between the Kikuyu and Kalenjin communities should they part political ways after 2017.
“It’s my feeling that the Deputy President is trying to blackmail the Kikuyu community when we know very well he is adding no value to (President Kenyatta’s) 2017 bid,” said an unapologetic Mr Njoroge.
“We keep promising Ruto that we are going to vote for him in 2022; suppose he feels betrayed (if we do not keep that promise), and then his people in the Rift Valley feel betrayed, you know how the story goes... and you know very well,” said the senator. “We might be creating unnecessary trouble.”
Mr Ruto, the former Eldoret North MP, became Deputy President in 2013 after running with Mr Kenyatta on a Jubilee coalition ticket. They beat their closest challengers, Cord by 6,173,433 votes to 5,340,546.
Mr Ruto’s United Republican Party (URP) and President Kenyatta’s The National Alliance (TNA) amassed great support in the Rift Valley and central regions, where they also have the greatest number of representatives in Parliament.
MERGE FORMATIVE PARTIES
The Jubilee alliance is planning to merge the formative parties into one mass movement but the matter of the Deputy President’s fate after next year’s elections continues to surface.
Through a gentlemen’s agreement, the alliance is supposed to stay alive for 10 years, the time required for President Kenyatta and his supporters to reciprocate the votes they received from the DP.
But, occasionally, a politician from the President’s side drops an unguarded comment, indicating the dynamic nature of the country’s highly ethnicised politics.
Two weeks ago, Kiambu Governor William Kabogo was forced clarify his comments, then threatened to sue his rivals, after he suggested the DP will not be a straightforward backing from the Central region. URP leaders in the North Rift were infuriated by the comments.
“What I said is that DP Ruto needs to engage Central Kenya ahead of 2022,” said Mr Kabogo. “That he needs to reassure Central Kenya that he will secure their interests. There is no place where I said that Central Kenya will not support Ruto. They are politicians driving selfish personal interests at the expense of national cohesion and development.”
On Tuesday, State House said the President and his Deputy are still joined at the hip in developing the country and uniting communities, and that it will take longer than President Kenyatta’s term to accomplish those objectives.
“It is, therefore, crucial that he (Mr Ruto) be the one to take the agenda forward. Second, Jubilee has brought bountiful peace not only in the Rift Valley, but also in many other conflict-prone areas. The Jubilee ticket of President Kenyatta and Deputy President Ruto is good for its supporters and good for Kenya.
“Third, the DP is doing an excellent job and has proved his abilities, acumen and diligence as a leader. Those haranguing the country over the 2022 election are wasting their time. The reaction of Jubilee supporters and many other Kenyans has been absolutely clear in their support for the Deputy President.”