, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 21 – A defiant William Ruto has vacated office at the Higher Education Ministry following his suspension, but declared that his 2012 presidential ambition remained unshaken, despite a pending Sh96m fraud case.
Mr Ruto said he would now “take time to go to the gym and hit the road running” as he re-engineers himself for a big political comeback.
“I have operated from this position before and this doesn’t change the equation for me. I now have a little bit more time. I intend to use it to re-engineer the game,” he stated.
Mr Ruto’s woes began on Friday when the Constitutional Court ruled that he should stand trial in a Sh96 million fraud case that was instituted against him six years ago. On Tuesday, President Mwai Kibaki spurned Mr Ruto as he awaits the conclusion of the case after consultations with Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
The minister had challenged the charges, arguing that it was a violation of his fundamental rights but the Constitutional court disagreed.
It is alleged that Mr Ruto fraudulently obtained the Sh96m from a former Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) manager in the pretext that he was in a position to sell land to KPC at Ngong Forest.
The court rejected the Minister\’s claims that the case was instituted against him in order to finish him politically saying this could not be justified. The suspended Minister has however maintained his innocence and said he was taking the suspension in his stride.
“I don’t necessarily agree with the decision taken by the principals but the decision they took is not entirely unreasonable considering the circumstances,” he said on Thursday.
Asked whether if vindicated by the court he would be willing to return to the Cabinet, Mr Ruto remained non-committal.
“That is a decision I will take then and when that offer is made,” he said.
He called for a speedy conclusion of the case so that “it is decided one way or another.”
“For your information I am very prepared for the outcome because in my mind I am settled that I am a very innocent person. It doesn’t come to me as a surprise at all. All manner of things have been leveled against me,” he said.
Section 62 of the Anti Corruption and Economic Crimes Act stipulates that a public officer who is charged with corruption or economic crime shall be suspended with half pay with effect from the date of the charge.
East African Community Minister Helen Sambili took over as acting Minister at the Higher Education docket and promised to carry on innovative programmes Mr Ruto had initiated in the Ministry.
“I wish you well my brother and pray that the case can be determined expeditiously so that you can regain your post,” she said.