Deputy President William Ruto on Sunday said his support for ODM leader Raila Odinga during the 2007 elections led to his trial for crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court.
Addressing a church service at Bondo Anglican Church in Mr Odinga’s political bedrock, Mr Ruto also declared that he had no grudge against Mr Odinga.
“I supported Baba (Odinga) in 2007, which resulted in the violence that took me to The Hague. There is no enmity between me and Raila Odinga. I will be coming to seek his support in 2022,” said Mr Ruto while raising funds for the construction of a church building.
He recounted how he and Mr Odinga were in the same ODM team in the 2007 General Election, competing against President Mwai Kibaki who was seeking re-election. Mr Kibaki was declared the winner but ODM contested the results. Mr Odinga and Mr Kibaki later struck a power-sharing deal to end the post-election violence that resulted.
Yesterday, Mr Ruto said he hoped the former Prime Minister would reciprocate and support his bid in 2022.
The two had a falling out during the term of the Grand Coalition Government, in which Mr Odinga was Prime Minister. Mr Ruto later went on to team up with Mr Uhuru Kenyatta ahead of the 2013 election and the two defeated Mr Odinga and his running mate, Mr Kalonzo Musyoka.
Mr Odinga, now leader of the opposition Cord, is expected to make another bid for the presidency in 2017, while Mr Ruto has said he will back President Kenyatta for re-election on the Jubilee Alliance Party ticket, and then make his own attempt for State House in 2022.
The Deputy President asked Mr Odinga, who has become one of his fiercest critics in the recent past, to “leave me alone and wait for competition in 2017”.
The visit to Bondo came against the background of a war of words between the two over corruption in government and handling of security issues.
Mr Odinga recently challenged President Kenyatta to show his commitment to the war on corruption by ordering the seizure of the Weston Hotel in Nairobi, partly owned by Mr Ruto. The ODM leader also demanded prosecution of the owners of the hotel, but Mr Ruto has defended himself arguing that the land — reported to originally belong to the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority — was acquired from a private owner. He has also said that the hotel was built when Mr Odinga served as Prime Minister and MP for Lang’ata, and yet he had not found it fit to raise the matter then.
Yesterday, Mr Ruto again defended his acquisition of the hotel, saying he had taken loans to finance its construction.
LEADERS DEFEND RUTO
“Mumenipatia kuku na samaki kama zawadi na hizo nitapeleka kwa hiyo hoteli wageni wakule (You have given me chicken and fish as gifts and I will take them to the hotel for my guests),” he said.
Political leaders from Rift Valley also defended Mr Ruto over the hotel case and asked Mr Odinga to leave the Deputy President alone.
Some local leaders, including Siaya Governor Cornel Rasanga skipped the event, which was, however, attended by Bondo MP Gideon Ochanda, his Kisumu Central counterpart, Mr Ken Obura, and former Cabinet minister Raphael Tuju.
“I am asking local leaders to work with the Jubilee Coalition to develop our country and deliver services to the people,” Mr Ruto told the gathering. “The Jubilee government is ready and willing to develop all areas in Kenya and work with all Kenyans, regardless of how they voted in the last General Election”.
Mr Ruto is expected in Kisumu town today for another church function at the invitation of Catholic Archbishop Zacchaeus Okoth. President Kenyatta is also expected to attend.
Dr Ochanda asked Siaya politicians to use the period before the next General Election to develop the county. “We were elected to serve the electorate and not to engage in constant politics,” he said.