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What loyalty? I have stood with Uhuru since 1998: Ruto

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto during their happier times. /FILE

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 25- Deputy President William Ruto has dismissed claims that his working relationship with the President is strained, and termed it a “narrative driven by people who have never cast a vote for him.”

Speaking during an interview on NTV on Thursday night, the DP gave a narration of his relationship with President Uhuru Kenyatta which, he said, started in 1998 when he played a role in ensuring he was nominated to Parliament.

Former President Daniel arap Moi, the DP revealed, had tasked him to ask legislator Mark Too to resign so that President Kenyatta, then a political novice, can sail through to Parliament.

He also recalled the day Uhuru conceded defeat after by Mwai Kibaki in 2002- where he flanked him during the night press conference held at a city hotel.

“We left State House 50 [of us], but we arrived at Serena about three people,” he said. “If there is loyalty that must be displayed, there is nobody who has displayed loyalty and respect better than me.”

Unlike the bromance the two displayed during their first term in office, when they would be seen in white shirts and marching ties, the President has been making key addresses, including the recent Cabinet changes without the DP’s presence.

But the DP has dismissed rising concerns, saying he is only consulted whenever the President deems it necessary since they are not running a coalition Government.

“All these shenanigans being peddled by people who were insulting Uhuru Kenyatta the other day, calling him all manner of names, today they want to give me a lecture on supporting him. Honestly, give me a break,” he asserted.

During the 2-hour interview with Ken Mijung’u, Ruto spoke on a range of topical issues, from his 2022 ambitions, the handshake, the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) which has raised political temperatures in the country, the war on corruption and claims that powerful forces are working to have his Crimes Against Humanity case in The Hague revived.

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On the ICC case, Ruto said Kenya’s spy boss Retired Major General Phillip Kameru had confided in him last year about renewed attempts to gather new evidence.

Ruto in the ICC during the trial on Crimes Against Humanity charges which were dropped for lack of evidence. /CFM-FILE.

Ruto faced crimes against humanity charges alongside 6 others, among them President Uhuru Kenyatta whose charges were also dropped. Both denied roles in the post-election violence.

The two leaders were on opposing sides, with the President supporting then-President Mwai Kibaki while Ruto was an ardent defender of former Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

“You see, I was a very easy target in the NARC administration (under former President Mwai Kibaki), they have been trying to look for a place to slow down William Ruto, how they can slow this man. If I was guilty of anything, I wouldn’t be seated here (as the Deputy President),” he said.

The DP also attributed the move by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to revive a land fraud case in which he was acquitted in 2010, as part of the wider plan by a group he referred as a “cabal” to stop him from achieving his presidential ambitions.”

In the case, the DP was charged for defrauding the Kenya Pipeline Company through the sale of Ngong Forest land then valued at Sh272 million.

But he was acquitted in the case he faced alongside former aide to former President Daniel arap Moi, Joshua Kulei, and former Lands boss Sammy Mwaita. The two were also acquited.

Detectives at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) re-opened the investigations, by summoning directors of four firms that were linked to the transaction, with the aim of establishing ownership and the entire transaction trail.

Lawyer Katwa Kigen has confirmed that he appeared before the detectives at DCI Headquarters on behalf of the firms. “They asked for documents on the sale transaction and were also interested to know the names of the directors,” he said.

When Ruto, at the time serving as Education Minister, and the two others were charged, the prosecution was hard-pressed to prove that they indeed received money from the land transaction, in what led to their acquittal because no evidence was tabled.

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They were subsequently acquitted by Gilbert Mutembei, a Magistrate who heard and determined their case at the time.

The re-opening of the case comes at a time Ruto is facing turbulent political times and though he has publicly declared his support for the Building Bridges Initiative(BBI), he continues to be on the receiving end from pro-Raila leaders, who insist his support is not sincere.

His perceived woes are believed to have started after President Kenyatta and the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM)leader made shook hands as a sign of a ceasefire in March 2018, after a prolonged electioneering period, marred by bloodshed and deaths.

DP Ruto and his allies have since declared that they will start attending the BBI consultative forums, starting with this weekend event in Mombasa, prompting organisers like Governor Hassan Joho and Suna East MP Junet Mohamed to issue restrictions, including “they are welcome but they will not speak,”

These remarks have not gone down well with the DP, who declared, “BBI is an inclusive program, no one has the right to lecture others or decide who should or should not attend.”

On the handshake, Ruto reiterated that ODM leader Raila Odinga had reached out to him, way before the pact with the President.

President Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga shook hands on the steps of Harabee House in March 2018. CFM-FILE.

“Before the handshake came to be, it is a discussion we had with the President. We had agreed that it is good to tone down the political temperatures,” he said, dismissing talk that he was kept in the dark on the matter and only saw it on live television.

Despite the common perception that he is “frustrated” over the current working plans in the Government, the DP wondered “how can you be frustrated with your own Government.”

He welcomed a recent circular directing all civil servants “to get back to work” and desist from engaging in politics “around the BBI.”

While it is evident that the 2013 bromance between him and the President has faded, the DP said he remains the only politician “who has offered the President support for all through since 1998.”

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On whether the political marriage with President Kenyatta is dead, the DP amusingly wondered “what marriage? Uhuru Kenyatta is married to Margaret, while William Ruto is married to Rachel.”

He urged Kenyans to avoid abrasive politics, for the sake of the country’s unity.

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