Kenya 2022: Don’t blame me for your government’s failures, Ruto tells Kenyatta

By Victor Abuso
Posted on Tuesday, 10 May 2022 19:47, updated on Tuesday, 28 June 2022 11:33

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta listens to deputy president William Ruto during the Mashujaa Day (Hero's Day) celebrations to commemorate those who had taken part in the country's struggle for liberation, at the Wang'uru stadium in Mwea, Kirinyaga county, Kenya 20 October 2021. REUTERS/Monicah Mwangi

Ahead of the August 2022 general election, deputy president William Ruto, who is now vying for the country's top seat, has bluntly told his boss President Uhuru Kenyatta to stop blaming him for any government failures.

Responding to a string of political attacks after Kenyatta endorsed his former rival Raila Odinga over his own deputy, Ruto said the President is the man in charge and should be blamed for any shortcomings.

Pressure on Ruto

Ruto, who is also the leader of the Kenya Kwanza Alliance, added that he will not bow to pressure to step down from his official position.

“I will not resign,” Ruto told supporters during a recent rally. “Let them [the Kenyatta-Raila camp] tell Kenyans what I have failed to do.”

Kenyatta has accused his deputy of abandonning his responsibilities and making political hay out of the rising cost of living in recent months.

“Instead of helping, you are all over in the marketplaces inciting people to ask me about the situation. Why didn’t you then resign and leave me to search for a person who could help me?” President Kenyatta said while addressing thousands of workers at a Labour Day event in Nairobi on 1 May.

These exchanges should stop now. We don’t want political tension.

Ruto has served as deputy president ever since Kenyatta took office in 2013.

During Kenyatta’s first term, the two men referred to themselves as political twins and went by the nickname UhuRuto (Uhuru-Ruto), while often appearing in identical red and white ties.

However, Kenyatta’s 2018 political handshake with Ondiga paved the way for this year’s full-throated endorsement. The President’s attempt to amend the constitution to expand the executive — a move judged unconstitutional by Kenya’s Supreme Court — also contributed to the bad blood with Ruto.

Mixed feelings

The deputy president’s latest salvo has the support of his allies and followers, who say President Kenyatta is the one to blame for the fall-out with his deputy.

The war of words

Carol Mutai, a Nairobi resident who plans to vote for Ruto, tells The Africa Report that she is worried about the war of words between Keyatta and Ruto escalating into something more as Kenyans go to the polls.

“These exchanges should stop now. We don’t want political tension,” Mutai says.

On the other hand, President Kenyatta continues to enjoy support from his loyalists as well as Odinga supporters. Odinga is the leader of the opposition Orange Democratic Movement and flag bearer of the Azimio La Umoja coalition.

Kevin Ochol, who supports Kenyatta and Odinga, says Ruto is to blame for undermining the President.

“I support Kenyatta,” Ochol says from Kisumu, western Kenya where he resides. “Ruto should just resign. He is disrespectful to his boss.”

Brian Wanyama, a political analyst, tells The Africa Report that as the official campaign period begins at the end of May, the war of words is only expected to intensify as the President campaigns against his deputy.

“We expect more of such exchanges in the next three months,” Wanyama says.

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