Raila will not push me into a handshake, President Ruto declares

William Ruto

President William Ruto addresses members of the public outside Kitale Agricultural Society of Kenya Showground in Trans Nzoia on January 21, 2023.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

President William Ruto has claimed Azimio la Umoja One Kenya leader Raila Odinga is stoking a political crisis to force his government into a settlement to advance family business interests.

The President vowed he will not yield to blackmail and ruled out a truce with Mr Odinga along the lines of the ODM leader’s handshake in 2018 with former President Uhuru Kenyatta following the disputed 2017 elections.

He spoke on a day the Azimio leader repeated claims he won last year’s presidential vote, termed the Kenya Kwanza government illegitimate and rallied his supporters to resist the new administration. 

The bitter war of words shattered a short-lived ceasefire between the two leaders that had seen Mr Odinga’s allies welcome the President during his recent tour of Nyanza.

Yesterday, President Ruto termed the planned protest rallies as a scheme whose end game is for Mr Odinga to use his political following to extract business concessions that only benefit him, his family and cronies.

“Hii maadamano yote wanafanya hawafanyi ju ya wananchi, wanafanya juu ya ubinafsi, familia zao na biashara zao (These protests are not in public interest but intended to advance selfish business interests),” the President said.  

“I want to tell them to forget about handshake, and don’t tell us you do not want handshake. We know you and we can see you,’’ Dr Ruto said yesterday when he addressed mourners in Kiambu during the funeral service for Pauline Nyokabi , a sister to Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria .


The Head of State declared he was not the type to be intimidated and vowed his government would crack down on any attempts to disrupt peace and fan instability.

“The government is not going to be blackmailed to serve the interests of a few people and their families. Tafuteni mtu mwingine wa kutisha sio mimi (Find someone else to threat, not me),” the President said. “Niachieni hawa nitadeal na wao (Leave them to me, I will deal with them).”

The Head of State said he will not bow to intimidation like his predecessor, neither will he be distracted from his goal to revive the economy.

President Ruto said he won the presidential election fairly as he termed calls by Mr Odinga that the poll servers be opened for a forensic audit “a waste of time”.

He added that what was being contested is in the public domain since the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) published the elections results forms on a public portal.

“I have heard them say that they want servers opened. (Former IEBC chairman Wafula) Chebukati opened the servers a long time ago and they are online on the IEBC portal,” Dr Ruto said.

The Head of State was reacting to Mr Odinga’s fresh allegations that the vote was rigged to deny him victory, citing unverified information from an alleged IEBC whistleblower.

The Supreme Court last year ruled that Dr Ruto was validly elected as the top judges said Mr Odinga was unable to prove allegations of irregularities.

Yesterday, the President, who was accompanied by his deputy Rigathi Gachagua, said Mr Odinga has a dubious record of rejecting poll results.


ReadDr Ruto said Mr Odinga had destabilised the governments of his predecessors – Moi, Kibaki and Kenyatta – with claims his victory had been stolen in previous elections.

Mr Gachagua lamented Mr Odinga had drafted his running mate Martha Karua, the Narc Kenya party leader, into the protest movement and pleaded with Kirinyaga governor Anne Waiguru to talk her out of it.