, MARSABIT, Kenya, Jun 28 – The 2022 succession politics dominated the Marsabit-Lake Turkana Festival where leaders rallied behind Deputy President William Ruto as the most preferred successor of President Uhuru Kenyatta at the end of his second and final term.
The DP has lately, come under sharp criticism, mainly from a section of Jubilee MPs and leaders allied to Opposition leader Raila Odinga, who accused him of launching early campaigns.
He was accompanied at the event, held in Loiyangalani, by over a dozen lawmakers from various parts of the country, among them Tana River Senator Wario Golicha, who faulted those opposed to Ruto’s frequent development tours.
“I want to plead with you that we continue walking with the Deputy President because that will not hurt anyone. We must continue to seek for peace,” he said, in an apparent reference to leaders allied to President Kenyatta’s main rival in the 2017 presidential election, Raila Odinga, who has dismissed Ruto’s countrywide tours as premature campaigns.
Similar remarks were voiced by Zawadi Fondo, a Nominated Senator from Kilifi, who said Ruto has a mandate to ensure every part of the country is included in the national development road-map.
“We can attest to the fact that you’ve sowed a seed in Kilifi and that seed is germinating and so we want to encourage you to continue with these development tours across the country,” she said of Ruto’s tours described by President Kenyatta as ‘Kutanga tanga (loitering), a slogan the DP seem to have taken in his stride, often remarking that he now has permission from his boss to go around the country.
Machakos Senator Boniface Kabaka Machakos added into the rallying call, inviting Ruto to make a visit to his home county to launch and inspect ongoing development projects being funded by the central government.
He emphasized the need for leaders to engage in development issues that will guarantee the emergence of vibrant local economies.
“We hear people complain about you going around the country. I can assure you that if you visit Machakos we’ll sit down with other leaders and give you what you want,” Kabaka said while making reference to Ruto’s ambitions to ascend to power in 2022.
His Kitui counterpart, Enock Wambua, urged leaders to focus on peace and integration saying Kenyans should use their diverse culture to cement inter-cultural ties.
Speaking at the event, the host governor, Mohamud Mohamed Ali, pledged to work closely with the national government in pursuit of development.
He urged the government to upgrade infrastructure at the local airstrip to boost tourism in the area.
In his speech, the Deputy President re-stated the government’s commitment to national unity urging all Kenyans to rally behind the unity agenda.
“I want to encourage all of us as leaders in our great country irrespective of the regions, the political parties, or religions we profess that we must work together for the greater good of the entirety of the people of Kenya,” the DP said.
“We must make sure that we build bridges of friendship, brotherhood, and unity so that we can move the development of our country forward,” he added.
Ruto, who recently dismissed Odinga’s criticism of his tours, said he is more focussed on uniting the country while launching development projects.
Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago, a close ally of Ruto, also graced the cultural event.