• Uhuru and Ruto have dropped any pretence and seem to have decided to go their separate ways ahead of 2022.
• Fallout started with execution of handshake and escalated by Jubilee Party politics.
Religious leaders have embarked on a mission to reconcile President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto.
The President and the DP have all but dropped any pretence at working together and seem to have decided to go their separate ways ahead of 2022.
With fears that Uhuru and Ruto's political animosity could push Kenya to the brink, top church leaders told the Star they are trying to bring the duo to the reconciliation table.
Those who spoke to the Star on Tuesday reckon that the country is heading in the wrong direction and the two leaders should iron out their differences.
Outgoing Christ is the Answer Ministries (CITAM) presiding bishop David Oginde said that religious leaders are working on a reconciliation plan.
Oginde said the animosity between Uhuru and Ruto is bound to increase political temperatures in the country.
“Talks are ongoing but nothing substantive so far. We are concerned with the rising political temperatures. Without peace, nothing happens,” he told the Star on phone.
Oginde is an influential church leader and a member of Inter-Faith Council on the national response on coronavirus.
Robert Lang'at, the presiding bishop of Africa Gospel Church of Kenya, said the clergy would love to see the President and his deputy reunited.
Lang'at said it is unfortunate that the handshake between Uhuru and ODM leader Raila Odinga has caused division in the Jubilee Party.
“Many of us have been wishing that they should not just reconcile but the handshake that was extended to Raila should have also had the DP on board. You cannot build a long bridge from Central Kenya to Nyanza without pillars in Rift Valley,” he told the Star on phone.
The cleric said the President and the DP should reconcile for the sake of the country. The Africa Gospel Church of Kenya church is dominant in populous South Rift Valley.
Lang’at said they have yet to get Uhuru and Ruto to agree on a date for mediation.
“We have talked from a distance on the desire to have the two leaders talk. But accessing them is very difficult. They should open up to us. This is something all religious leaders are interested in,” he said.
The bad blood between Uhuru and Ruto appears to have begun in 2018 when the President called a truce with his 2017 presidential rival Raila Odinga.
The truce resulted in the formation of the Building Bridges Initiative Task Force which is expected to submit its final report to Uhuru and Raila.
Among the issues that have caused a political storm in the country is the possibility of the BBI team recommending the expansion of the Executive.
Ruto has opposed the push for the expansion of government when Kenyans are feeling the the weight of bloated wage bill.
Retired Africa Inland Church leader bishop Silas Yego said all leaders must unite for the good of the country.
“When leaders are peaceful, Kenyans too are peaceful and there is meaningful development. We want to see all our leaders united and serving Kenyans,” Yego said.
Nairobi's Catholic Church head John Cardinal Njue also called for unity.
Kenya Council of Church Alliances and Ministers on Sunday said that the political bickering is not good for the country.
“We call upon the President to initiate a reconciliation strategy that will restore unity in the government and calm the country from the anxiety that has resulted from the seeming conflict in the presidency,” they said in a statement.
Ruto is understood to think that the move by the President to “sneak in” the handshake is part of a scheme to cut him to size ahead of 2022 succession politics.
In 2013, the two agreed that Uhuru would serve his 10 years then support Ruto for a further two terms. Things have changed since the handshake happened.
Both Uhuru and Raila have insisted that the handshake and the BBI report have nothing to do with 2022 succession politics.
Uhuru and Ruto's differences over the handshake have been compounded by the fight to control the Jubilee Party.
Party leader Uhuru has overseen a massive purge targeted allies of Ruto in plum leadership positions in both the Senate and the National Assembly.
The party has also signed post-election agreements with Kanu, Wiper Democratic Movement and Chama Cha Mashinani without involving Ruto.
In January last year, the President gave Interior CS Fred Matiang’i supervisory roles across government, which was seen as a move to cut Ruto’s influence.
Previously, Ruto had been monitoring and commissioning government projects, with MPs trooping to his office lobbying for projects. Uhuru’s power men were allegedly infuriated by the development.
Lately, Ruto has been complaining of how government officials have been ordered to stay away from him.
The DP has claimed that other officials insult him as politicians supporting his 2022 course are being intimidated.
(edited by o. owino)