President Ruto sets condition for offering Raila a role

Azimio la Umoja leader Raila Odinga (left) and his Kenya Kwanza counterpart William Ruto

President William Ruto and Azimio la Umoja leader Raila Odinga (left).

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

President William Ruto has disclosed that he was ready to offer Azimio leader Raila Odinga a job only if he quits active politics.

This comes after the head of state, allowed his predecessor, Uhuru Kenyatta, to continue leading peace initiatives in Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) despite having received no support from him during the presidential campaigns.

In an interview with BBC on Monday, Dr Ruto said he was ready to work with the former Prime Minister but not in the handshake arrangement, which he described as a “fraud”.

“When Raila Odinga decides to retire, I think there are roles he can play as a Kenyan leader. He can support the country in other initiatives, in other areas may be in the Great Lakes region because he has contacts there; he can work with the rest of us as an elder statesman, as a person who has served as Prime Minister of Kenya. It is not for me to choose. I mean it is for Kenyans. Kenyans love these leaders,” President Ruto explained.

Deploy all the resources

He added: “As President, I would deploy all the resources we have for the good of the country, to provide for the country positively and if Raila Odinga came by, I would find something for him to do but not in the handshake arrangement. That one I ruled out a long time ago. We want to have a functional democracy.”

According to the head of state, having another handshake will compromise opposition, something he argues that he will not entertain, noting that he supports a vibrant opposition.

“The handshake arrangement was the biggest fraud for the people of Kenya. It shouldn’t have happened. Once you compromise the opposition, once you compromise oversight, once you compromise the line between government and the opposition, you are headed in the wrong direction. Many wrong things will happen as they did happen,” he said.

“The opposition has the constitutional responsibility to make sure that the government is held to account. Actually, the opposition is part and parcel, by function of the governance of our country, and to compromise that element of governance of oversight, is the very wrong thing to do. (The) opposition does not necessarily mean enmity as we always said and I do not agree that Africa should have a different variety of democracy from the rest of the world,” Dr Ruto added.

He also disclosed that despite Mr Kenyatta not having supported him in the just concluded election, their relationship still holds, noting that he does speak to his predecessor as well as Mr Odinga, insisting that the country is bigger than all of them.

“Today, I speak to Uhuru Kenyatta as our former President and I speak to Raila Odinga. They are leaders in our country. We have a country to look after and we are not enemies. We are competitors, we are compatriots, we have a country to look after. Whether you are in the Executive as a President like me and ministers or you are in opposition like Raila Odinga and his troops, we are serving the same country,” said President Ruto.

Running the opposition

“We are running the Executive, they are running the opposition and they are oversighting government so that government can do good to the people of Kenya and public resources are spent in a manner that benefits all Kenyans,” he said.

According to Dr Ruto, although it was difficult for him to accept that someone he supported ended up throwing his support behind someone else, he does not regret working with Mr Kenyatta.

“Difficult, yes but also, it is reality. You would waste a lot of time living in denial. So when it was obvious that Uhuru Kenyatta was not going to support me, I moved on. I built another team. By God’s grace, we won the election. That is now behind us and I want to say that there is no bridge burned, there is no issue, it was a competition.”

“In a competition, there are winners and losers, it could have been me, it could have been them. By God’s grace, I won this election and it is not in my place to go and remind people that ‘oh, you didn’t support me or I do not this or that’. That was a democratic process and it speaks to the maturity of the democratic institutions, (and) processes in Kenya,” he said while citing the achievements of the Jubilee administration.

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