• Ruto says he was pressured to support Uhuru because he is Kikuyu.
• He declared support for Margret Wanjiru, the UDA candidate for Nairobi Governor.
Deputy President William Ruto has read the riot act to his boss President Uhuru Kenyatta for dragging back the country to what he called the backward politics of tribalism.
In what are clearly last stages of an acrimonious divorce defining the 2022 presidential contest, Ruto said he was ready to face off with the handshake brigade and urged Uhuru to stop “threats and blackmail".
In a rare public exchange between Uhuru and Ruto, the DP said he has supported Uhuru thrice, knowing that he was a Kikuyu and the son of a former President.
“Many of those who were speaking Saturday [at the burial of Musalia Mudavadi’s mother] are the ones who were telling me you cannot support another Kikuyu and I told them I am not supporting Uhuru Kenyatta because of his tribe, I am supporting him because we have a plan to change Kenya,” Ruto said at the House of Hope Church in Kayole on Sunday.
He said he rallied behind Uhuru with Kibaki still at State House in a deliberate move to end what he termed “the politics of stupidity of grouping people in tribes".
“Don’t drive us the narrative of exclusion, of telling us about tribes and tribal chiefs. My friends, Wajinga wameisha Kenya,” Ruto said.
The DP rebutted Uhuru who on Saturday gave the clearest hint he will not back Ruto for the presidency and may in fact campaign against him.
Uhuru said the Mt Kenya and the Kalenjin communities have produced the country’s four presidents since Independence and should pave the way other communities.
“Even me, I can stand here and say there are only two Kenyan communities that have led. Maybe it's time for other tribes to lead. Kenya has many communities,” Uhuru said, getting a standing ovation from sections of the mourners.
An angry Uhuru also declared that he is firmly in charge of the government and that his silence should not be misconstrued as weakness.
“Msione simba amenyeshewa mkadhani ni paka… I am in charge of this government and I am in control of what we are doing.”
But on Saturday, Ruto asked Uhuru to stop the threats.
“Let no one threaten you,” Ruto told his troops, mainly Mt Kenya MPs who had taken turns to hit out at the President.
“You know this country, people are threatening each other. Me and these leaders have been threatened over many things. Some have been taken to court, some removed from parliamentary leadership and some have their accounts frozen.”
He went on, “Don’t waste your time with threats, don’t waste your time with blackmail. Don’t waste your time with everything you are doing. You can do it as much as you want but we must change this country.”
Ruto said the next head of state will be elected on their policies and not based on their ethnicity.
He said there is panic because he and his team had changed the leadership narrative to be about the ordinary people.
“Those who are used to selling the tribe are in a panic because their business of the tribe and the price of ethnicity is down (sic), they are starring at losses,” Ruto said.
In a jibe at the handshake team, he said some are waiting to be given the presidency in boardrooms and bars.
“Those to determine Kenyan leaders are the people. But there are others being told they would be given leadership in boardrooms, in bars, others believe they would be given bit y the system and others by the 'deep state',” Ruto stated.
Over the last few years, Uhuru has been very close to ODM leader Raila Odinga, Musalia Mudavadi (ANC) and Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper).
There are fears in Ruto’s camp Uhuru wants the Nasa brigade to remain intact and then rally the Mt Kenya bloc through former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth to join the team. It is not clear who would be the presidential candidate.
However, on Sunday, Ruto said his team is ready and dared his competitors to bring it on.
“We are ready and we know leadership comes from God and the people. Let's meet at the ballot,” he stated.
For the first time, Ruto asked Nairobians to back former Starehe MP Margret Wanjiru for Nairobi governor.
Wanjiru is running on the wheelbarrow party, the United Democratic Alliance.
The DP declaration was a signal that he had formally decamped from Jubilee as the ruling party is yet to decide on a candidate.
UDA headquarters, branded the hustler centre, was officially launched on Friday.
Ruto had lined up scores of his troops, most of them from Uhuru’s Mt Kenya backyard, who in turns attacked the President..
Moses Kuria said Uhuru can gather all the “cerelac boys” but Ruto would still beat them.
(Edited by V. Graham)