What you need to know:
- Former Head of State Uhuru Kenyatta said he has nothing to do with the ongoing demonstrations led by the Azimio leader, Mr Raila Odinga.
A furious Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday dared his successor, President William Ruto, to face him head-on, daring the Head of State to arrest him if he had broken any law.
While vowing that he would defend his family “which is under constant attack” to the end, he insisted that he had nothing to hide or fear.
Mr Kenyatta, who has maintained silence even in the face of direct and indirect attacks and accusations by President Ruto and his government, says he has not spoken directly to his former deputy, whom he said had unleashed State machinery to intimidate him and his family.
While protesting against a raid by security agents on his eldest son Jomo’s home in Karen, Mr Kenyatta asked President Ruto to stop going to his family and instead face him directly.
Mr Kenyatta said dozens of police officers raided the residences of his son in Subarus and Prados with South Sudanese number plates.
As a pointer to the strained relations with his successor, Mr Kenyatta, when asked whether he had spoken to President Ruto, responded: “You have a tête-à-tête with somebody who wants to talk with you; (President Ruto) has not shown any indication that he wants to talk to me. As a retired person, why should I go look for somebody who does not want to talk to me?”
He also mentioned an incident this week where the security of his mother, Kenya’s founding First Lady Mama Ngina Kenyatta, was withdrawn from her Gatundu and Muthaiga homes. He said the move was part of a “petty” scheme by Dr Ruto’s government to intimidate him.
“The fact that I am silent does not mean that I am scared. Come for me. What does my mother have to do with anything? What have my children got to do with anything? You know where I am all the time. Come for me,” he told journalists outside his son’s gate.
Mr Kenyatta insisted that the targeted attacks against his 90-year-old mother will be met by stiff resistance.
“As President, I defended Kenya to the best of my ability. Now as a retired man, I will defend my family to the very end,” said Mr Kenyatta.
He added that the coordinated attacks against him should stop.
“You withdraw my 90-year-old mother’s security at night, you raid my son’s home claiming to be from the police, and not identifying yourself, and now you threaten to withdraw the firearm licences of my family members. Why all this? Do not intimidate my mother or my children; you know where I am,” Mr Kenyatta said.
He went on: “How do you want them to protect themselves? Is it a crime to have a licensed firearm? No. A lot of people have them, even foreigners, as long as they meet the criteria.”
“You have withdrawn their security, now you want to withdraw their personal weapons. Are you doing that because you plan something? And if that is it, my only plea is do not plan against my mother or my children. Plan against me,” Mr Kenyatta further remarked.
When Dr Ruto was declared President, Mr Kenyatta said, he handed over leadership legally, as was required by law, despite having not supported Dr Ruto’s candidature in the elections.
The respect he gave Dr Ruto by peacefully handing over to him, he suggested, should be accorded to him in his retirement.
“I handed over power (peacefully because) we are a democracy. I may not have supported this government, but I accepted the will of the people, didn’t I? You all saw me in broad daylight. I did what I was supposed to do. So, what else do you want?” asked the former Head of State.
Mr Kenyatta had backed Mr Odinga for the presidency in the August 2022 election after a March 2018 Handshake that sealed a deal between the two arch-rivals and which pushed Dr Ruto out of government, making him a de-facto opposition leader.
The President, therefore, sees his win as a mark of sweet revenge against two people he now blames for what he said was being bitter with his win, and planning to use the protests as a way to reopen the “closed electoral contest” .
Yesterday, Mr Kenyatta pushed back against the accusations by Dr Ruto that he was behind the opposition protests in the country since March this year.
“I have ignored all those (about him funding Azimio protests) because I have asked myself 'how?' What do the issues that Kenyans are talking about have to do with me? Have you seen me in those events? Have you seen me talk about those events? Now you say that because of my association with Raila, am I not supposed to talk with my friends? Is that a crime in Kenya today?” asked Mr Kenyatta.
The former President remains the chairman of the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition council, placing him at the centre of its highest decision-making organ.
Mr Kenyatta has not relinquished his Azimio council seat, but has not been seen in opposition-planned events, except one parliamentary group meeting after the elections in Kajiado, in which he declared “Raila is still my leader”, and another in Siaya in February during the burial of former Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha.
Last week, President Ruto claimed Mr Kenyatta was a sponsor of the Raila Odinga-led protests, which the Head of State said were meant to destabilise his government in a grand plan to have Mr Odinga “join government through the backdoor”.
“I want to tell my friend Uhuru Kenyatta: leave Raila Odinga. Stop giving him money to Raila to burn Nairobi. You are a former President; be a gentleman. We supported you when you were President, now that you backed Raila and he lost in the presidential election, leave him. And if you do not, we will chase you out of town with that friend of yours,” President Ruto told Mr Kenyatta.
Last evening, Mr Kenyatta said he will not stop being friends with Mr Odinga, whom he said had not committed any crime to warrant his seclusion from other members of society.
“Is it a crime to talk to my friends? I mean, Raila is my friend, and he has not committed an act of terrorism so anybody can be told not to associate with him,” Mr Kenyatta said.
I thought we lived in a democracy, where everyone had a right to association,” Mr Kenyatta said.
He also rejected a coup plot by Dr Ruto allies to take over his Jubilee Party, saying it was against democracy.
“What I am against is this undemocratic coups of people wanting to grab and steal our party. I always had a plan to relinquish my post as Jubilee party leader, but I want it to be up to the members on who leads next, not anybody else,” he said.