, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 23 – William Samoei Ruto has undoubtedly been the most vocal of the six suspects with cases at the International Criminal Court (ICC).
During the haggle over the 2007 presidential election results, he was a strong defender of Prime Minister Raila Odinga whose victory he claimed was stolen. His Eldoret North constituency was a hotspot during the violence.
It is in Eldoret that 28 persons including children were burnt to death inside a Kenya Assemblies of God Church. The areas of Uasin Gishu and Burnt Forest were also major hotspots.
He was the first suspect to confront speculation that his name was among those in the infamous Waki envelop that was handed over to Chief Mediator Kofi Annan and later to the International Criminal Court (ICC). He has been adversely mentioned in both the Waki Report and that by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights over his alleged role in the violence.
The former Higher Education Minister voluntarily made a trip to The Hague with the intention of meeting prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo seeking to know what implicating evidence the prosecutor had against him. Ruto did not meet Ocampo, but met other representatives from his office.
He was eventually summoned by the Pre-Trial Chamber alongside compatriots Henry Kosgey and Joshua arap Sang over the violence in the North Rift.
Upon their return after the initial appearance Ruto, Uhuru Kenyatta and vice president Kalonzo Musyoka, backed by 80 MPs turned up at a home-coming prayer-rally at Uhuru Park into a huge political rally.
During his appearances before the court Ruto dismissed allegations levelled against him by the prosecution as things “only possible in a movie”.
Ruto has relentlessly traversed the country seeking to popularise himself as he prepares for the General election.
Ruto has accused the Waki commission and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights for failing to give him an opportunity to defend himself and has even gone to local courts to have his name expunged from the KNCHR report.
In the recent past, he has accused former KNCHR’s commissioner Hassan Omar Hassan of coaching witnesses to implicate him. He also dismissed Ocampo for “engaging in politics and hatching a plot to keep him and his associates out of the 2012 presidential elections.”
The vibrant Eldoret North MP worked with closely with former President Daniel arap Moi and Raila Odinga. The sly politician has however disowned his political mentors and chosen his own path.
In 2007 he told off Moi who was backing Mwai Kibaki for the presidency and instead supported Odinga. He is remembered for telling Moi to go home and rest.
After the formation of the grand coalition government he accused the premier of short-changing the people of the Rift Valley in the allocation of Cabinet posts and for failing to defend hundreds of youths arrested in the area over accusations of participation in the post election violence.
He joined the United Democratic Movement (UDM) – although he officially remained an ODM parliamentarian – but despite having invested his finances and energies to form the party, he eventually decamped to the United Republican Party (URP).
Ruto started his political career as part of the Cyrus Jirongo-led Youth for KANU (YK) ’92, an outfit hastily put together to campaign for Moi’s re-election in the first multiparty election. KANU’s success saw Ruto appointed Assistant Minister for Provincial Administration, and then Minister of Home Affairs.
He was elected to Parliament under KANU as MP for Eldoret North in 1997. He joined the Orange Democratic Movement in 2005 during the referendum campaigns. Later in 2007 he ran for nomination as ODM presidential candidate but was beaten by Odinga.
The former University of Nairobi Christian Union choir master started off as a teacher at Sirgoi Secondary School and Kamagut Secondary School. He is a businessman with interests in real estate, insurance and hospitality industries.
Despite clearance by the courts in a corruption case surrounding the illegal sale of land to a State corporation Ruto was dropped from the Cabinet by his party boss.
The 45-year-old Bachelor of Science graduate married Rachel Chebet, a teacher, in 1991 and they have six children.
He is represented at the ICC by counsels Katwa Kigen and Kithure Kindiki.
Despite Ruto facing charges of murder, forcible transfer of populations and persecution at the ICC, he is defiant that he will remain in the race for the country’s presidency on presumption of his innocence.