Kenya’s President-elect William Ruto on Monday used a celebratory press briefing to downplay the rift with his soon-to-be predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta, saying he had every right to support his opponent Raila Odinga.
President Kenyatta had endorsed his erstwhile opponent, Mr Odinga, to challenge his deputy Ruto in the presidential race. On Monday, the Supreme Court validated the deputy president’s win, announced on August 15 by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
Dr Ruto said he had not spoken to Mr Kenyatta but had no bitterness for him endorsing Mr Odinga and reneging on their political pact.
“I will shortly be putting a call to my good friend President Uhuru Kenyatta. I haven’t talked to him in months, but shortly I will be doing a call to him so that we can have a conversation on the process of transition,” Dr Ruto said shortly after the Supreme Court endorsed his win.
“I know he worked hard in his own way, but the people of Kenya have made a decision, and we have absolutely no issue with the democratic decision of any Kenyan. When I chose Uhuru Kenyatta, I did not give him any conditions. So I take no offence at all that he chose to support another person. And therefore, we will remain friends in the context of where we are.”
'Respect and honour'
“We will give him respect and honour in his retirement. We are not petty. He has done his job, and he will have his place in the history of Kenya. When our good friend Raila Odinga retires, we will also give him the respect he deserves.”
Dr Ruto also said he would continue with some of the projects launched by Mr Kenyatta that are yet to be completed.
The DP said, however, he would not reach out to the opposition for a possible power sharing.
“I do not believe in handshake stories. I believe in an accountable government held to account by a responsible opposition.
“This marks the end of the politics of deceit, betrayal. Every leader must be held to account. With the opportunity God has given us, we want to have a country based on the rule of law. The criminal justice system will be used for fighting criminals. The criminal justice system will never be used again against those who have a contrary view to ours.”
After the Supreme Court ruling upheld his election on Monday, Dr Ruto said the IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati, whom petitioners had wanted to be declared unfit for public office, was a hero.
“The IEBC stood firm; the Judiciary has vindicated the IEBC.
“The hero of our campaign is the legendary mama mboga (ordinary grocery seller). The hero of our election is one Wafula Chebukati...and the hero of our rule of law and democracy is our Judiciary.
The presidential petition meant his earlier scheduled inauguration on August 30 was delayed to await the decision. He will now be sworn in on September 13, as provided for in law.
Nonetheless, he said the petitioners had enhanced the democracy and belief in institutions established to resolve electoral disputes and said the opponents had a right to sue.
“The petitioners tested the result and inscribed upon it the highest stamp of judicial and electoral approval.”
“We are only competitors, not enemies. I, therefore, consider all my competitors to be worthy compatriots.
“Let us work together and make Kenya a nation where everyone is proud to call home.”