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Kenya: Ruto Not at Ease as Allies Play No Role in BBI Event




Wednesday was a long day for Deputy President William Ruto and his allies as they endured moments of humiliation before, during and after the launch of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report at Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi.

That the DP was having an uneasy time was reflected in his demeanour and body language during the ceremony that was a culmination of the ‘handshake’ between President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga.

Throughout the event, Dr Ruto appeared pensive as speaker after speaker heaped praises on President Uhuru Kenyatta and Mr Odinga for the Building Bridges Initiative. He laughed or smiled only occasionally.

As President Kenyatta laughed animatedly at jokes and jibes, Dr Ruto wore a blank face.

The ‘handshake’ drew President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga and their supporters close, but alienated Dr Ruto who has on several occasions accused the ODM leader of seeking to split Jubilee Party.


Their rivalry reached the climax during the recent Kibra by-election when they engaged in a supremacy battle.

Following the loss of the Jubilee candidate, Dr Ruto accused Mr Odinga and his ODM party of fuelling violence.

On Wednesday, President Kenyatta made light of the matter, saying the election had in fact demonstrated mature politics.

On Thursday, Dr Ruto’s supporters complained about what they termed as attempts of the organisers of the event to humiliate and embarrass the DP.

During the ceremony, leaders who have openly shown support for Dr Ruto under the Tangatanga faction of Jubilee were conspicuously missing from the list of speakers.

Only Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, who is the Majority Leader in the Senate, and Mr Adan Duale, the Majority Leader in the National Assembly, got a chance to speak.

“We were not even informed that we would speak as we were not given any programme indicating the list of speakers of the day,” Mr Murkomen said Thursday.

“I guess that it was an afterthought to allow us to speak, reading from the mood in the building.”


Mr Murkomen said although the event was meant to start a conversation on national unity, the running of the event and mobilisation of delegates were aimed at silencing the DP’s supporters.

“It was purely a one-sided event,” he said. “They mobilised their own people; they didn’t want us to talk and they heckled us.”

Mr Murkomen was heckled when he complained about the treatment given to some leaders.

Dr Ruto’s supporters said the DP had been forced to wait for some minutes for President Kenyatta’s convoy and that of Mr Odinga to leave the venue before he was cleared to leave.

The DP, in the co-driver’s seat, watched the convoy of Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga leave ahead of him.

Some delegates leaving the venue also shouted at the DP, accusing him of opposing the initiative.

Earlier during the day before the meeting started, Dr Ruto was seen waiting outside the VVIP holding area where President Kenyatta, Mr Odinga and other dignitaries were holed up as members of the Presidential Escort Unit and the President’s aide-de-camp Lieutenant Colonel Timothy Lekolol kept guard outside the door.

As the event started, Tangatanga politicians tried to protest after discovering that Suna East MP Junet Mohamed was listed as an emcee for the event.



Unlike in past events, the official programme was distributed about 30 minutes after it had started.

In the programme, Mr Odinga spoke after Dr Ruto and it was the ODM leader who invited President Kenyatta to address the meeting.

“The programme looked like that of an ODM party convention. They even selected Junet Mohamed who is one of the party’s loudest mouths to be the emcee in the section meant for leaders’ speeches,” Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro complained.

According to Belgut MP Nelson Koech, Mr Mohamed only picked ODM and Kieleweke-leaning politicians to speak.

“It seems he was forced to call on Mr Murkomen and National Assembly Majority Leader Adan Duale after protests from other leaders present. Before that, he hadn’t called any leaders who openly support the DP,” Mr Koech said.

North Mugirango MP Joash Nyamoko accused Mr Mohamed of being partisan.

Allies of the President and Mr Odinga who spoke at the event include women reps Gladys Wanga (Homa Bay) and Sabina Chege (Murang’a), governors Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega), Ali Hassan Joho (Mombasa), Charity Ngilu (Kitui), Anne Waiguru (Kirinyaga) and Kiraitu Murungi (Meru). Siaya Senator James Orengo also spoke.


The other speakers who have in the past said Dr Ruto had no chance of becoming President in 2022 but who were invited to address the gathering were Kanu secretary-general Nick Salat and Cotu boss Francis Atwoli.

Mr Junet called party leaders Musalia Mudavadi (ANC) and Ford-Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula to speak before asking Mr Duale and Mr Murkomen to air their views.