Deputy President William Ruto has cast doubt on Opposition leader Raila Odinga’s motive in the March 9, 2018 handshake deal with President Uhuru Kenyatta.
In an exclusive interview on Citizen TV’s News Night show, Ruto alleged that Mr. Odinga approached him four times after the 2017 elections, before the opposition chief went ahead to engage President Kenyatta in what would culminate in a much-publicised handshake at the steps of Harambee House.
The DP, however, said he totally declined to hold talks with the former premier on all the alleged occasions, adding that he duly informed President Kenyatta on the said happenings.
On why he supposedly declined to engage Mr. Odinga, Ruto says “I did not believe that he was doing this in good faith.”
“Before Raila Odinga engaged President Uhuru Kenyatta on the handshake, he engaged me. Raila Odinga approached me on four occasions to have a discussion and I declined to engage him for two reasons,” said Ruto.
“In Jubilee we have one central command. Uhuru Kenyatta is the party leader and president and we all refer to him. If there is any engagement with anybody on matters politics it has to start with President Kenyatta. For every approach that was made by Raila Odinga to me, I informed the President. I personally told him I will not engage Raila Odinga.”
He added: “I did not believe that he was doing this in good faith. On two occasions, we spoke on phone when he (Raila) sent some emissary and I could hear the trend: ‘Ooh you know… you can see the president has started appointing ministers.’ I told him (Raila) initially we (Uhuru and Ruto) were having a coalition, but now we are running a party… So the president does not have to consult me.”
Ruto alleged that Odinga was trying to convince him that he (Ruto) would be shortchanged in the appointment of Cabinet Secretaries.
“I knew that the narrative was about to try and say that I was being shortchanged here and there, which to me is a fake thing,” said Ruto.
Describing himself as “a good student of history,” Ruto said he had previously seen Mr. Odinga team up with other political outfits only for him to wreck them to his advantage.
“See what happened in the merger between KANU and DP… Raila came in and walked away with half of KANU,” said Ruto.
Asked why the President went ahead to engage Mr. Odinga despite him (Ruto) casting aspersions on the former premier, the DP said: “We are all different. The president operates from a high level than me. He has more information and a bigger view.”
On whether the handshake is working to the good of the country, Ruto said: “To an extent yes. The fact that we do not have demonstrations anymore, people quarreling in the streets, businesses are running without problems. It is working.”
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