What you need to know:
- Ruto's performance on Mashujaa Day gave a glimpse of why President Kenyatta doesn’t wish to see his deputy succeed him in 2022.
- In Kirinyaga, the Deputy President spoke like a man who had already won the presidential race, going as far as giving reassurances to his predecessor.
If the Mashujaa Day were a political beauty contest, it would only have had one clear winner this year. Deputy President William Ruto stole the show at Kirinyaga’s Warung’uru Stadium with a speech that drew wild cheers from the crowd.
To a casual observer, Mr Ruto’s performance was aimed at former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who is the Deputy President’s presumed main rival in the 2022 presidential race.
The truth is that the Deputy President stepped onto that stage with a single objective, to outshine President Uhuru Kenyatta in his backyard.
Remember the January meeting at Sagana where the President dared Mr Ruto to a duel, accusing him of trying to sneak into his political house through the window?
Mr Ruto called the President’s bluff in Kirinyaga.
Coming days after Mr Ruto declared himself the political kingpin of Mt Kenya, the reception will probably make him feel even more bullish about his invincibility in the region.
Yet elements of his performance also gave a glimpse of why President Kenyatta doesn’t wish to see his deputy succeed him in 2022.
Personal attacks on Uhuru
The President has in the past talked about Dr Ruto being in a hurry to take over power, using the analogy of a relay race athlete running backwards to receive the baton instead of waiting for it to be handed to him.
In Kirinyaga, the Deputy President spoke like a man who had already won the presidential race, going as far as giving reassurances to his predecessor.
With a few edits here and there, his speech writers could as well be keeping a copy for the official handover ceremony!
The deception game wouldn’t have escaped the President and his supporters as well.
With Mr Kenyatta increasingly leaning towards endorsing Mr Odinga’s candidacy, the Deputy has in recent weeks ramped up his personal attacks on the duo
Days to the Mashujaa Day celebrations, Mr Ruto had said some of the nastiest things about Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga, calling them matapeli (fraudsters) while addressing a crowd in Mombasa.
'Ruto Deception Show’
The same man who called the President a fraudster showed up in Kirinyaga to praise him as a transformational leader whose legacy is secure in Kenya’s history.
He also pledged to continue the legacy, contradicting his several statements at past public rallies dismissing everything the administration has done in the second term as a failure.
The problem for Mr Ruto is that his move to outshine President Kenyatta and play the deception game in Kirinyaga only serves to fuel the fear some Kenyans already have about his possible presidency.
His political rivals have in the past sought to be amplify his dramatic performances in the 2013 campaigns, as President Kenyatta’s running mate, in which he promised several stadia ‘in the next six months’ that were never delivered.
They are likely to highlight Kirinyaga as yet another ‘William Ruto Deception Show’.
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