Ruto on his win: Freedom is here!

President-elect William Ruto making his address during the inaugural meeting with Kenya Kwanza leaders.

President-elect William Ruto at his Karen Residence on September 5, 2022.

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Dr Ruto promised to end cases of civil servants taking partisan sides in campaigns.

President-Elect William Ruto yesterday promised an open government that he said will end the use of the criminal justice system for political reasons in his first speech where he celebrated as heroes the seven Supreme Court judges who unanimously upheld his victory.

Dr Ruto, who went against a President Uhuru Kenyatta-led State campaign that backed Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition candidate Raila Odinga, promised to end cases of civil servants taking partisan sides in campaigns.

While he celebrated Mr Odinga—and other presidential candidates Prof George Wajackoyah and David Waihiga Mwaure—Dr Ruto, however, ruled out a Handshake with the Azimio leader, insisting that he should remain in the opposition to check on his government.

“Democracy is expected to unite a people, strengthen their society and improve its institutions and must not become an acrimonious, fearful and desperate enterprise. We offered alternative visions and missions, and submitted to the sovereign decision of the citizens of Kenya. We are only competitors, not enemies. We vied to unite and strengthen Kenya, not to divide and weaken it,” Dr Ruto said to Mr Odinga and his other competitors.

The President-Elect saluted the Supreme Court judges, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) before it and the hustler nation—on whose shoulders he made an unprecedented first and successful stab at the presidency—calling them heroes of the polls.

“The hero of our campaign is mama mboga and bodaboda. The hero of the election is Mr Wafula Chebukati and the IEBC. The hero of our democracy, the rule of law and constitutionalism is our Judiciary,” said Dr Ruto.

On his own win, he said: “My election confirms that it is possible to rise above your background, economic status and social standing to the highest possible point, including leadership of this great country.”

His victory, he said, was because “we were prayed into victory by Kenyans.”

“We are truly grateful as Kenya Kwanza team because we have come a long way. It’s not the waking up early, or working long hours, it is the favour of God that has brought us here. And we are acutely aware of that. We thank everyone that prayed for us. The day I received the certificate, I said we were prayed into victory.  I want to tell the people of Kenya, those who made an effort to get us here, we will work hard, and we will not let you down,” said Dr Ruto.

To Mr Odinga, who had arguably moved from being an opposition leader to the second most powerful man in government following his March 2018 Handshake with President Kenyatta, Dr Ruto asked him to remain true to the spirit of the opposition.

“We will have an opposition in Kenya. We will not have a handshake like we had before that creates a mongrel of a government where no one knows where the line is. I believe in the rule of law. I do not believe in Handshake stories.  I believe in an accountable government held to account by a responsible opposition. That is how Kenya is going to move forward,” said Dr Ruto.

He, however, defended his move to win over former Kilifi governor Amason Kingi’s Pamoja African Alliance (PAA), ex-Machakos governor Alfred Mutua’s Maendeleo Chap Chap, Mandera Senator-elect Ali Roba’s United Democratic Movement (UDM), former Meru governor Kiraitu Murungi’s Devolution Empowerment Party (DEP), and Ugenya MP Dave Ochieng’s Movement for Democratic Growth (MDG).

“We have many people who were forced, blackmailed, threatened into belonging in Azimio. Many of these leaders were told-if you don't join Azimio, a court case will be brought against you and many other threats. Our good competitors have to really think on how to take their coalition into the future now that they don’t have the instruments of blackmail, threats and intimidation,” he said.

“They have built their coalition using force and blackmail. This is a democratic country. And you cannot force anybody to make political choices they don’t want,” he added.

Azimio has insisted that the MPs elected in those parties—which signed an agreement with the coalition—will still be counted as belonging to them, and which will go in the calculation of the majority and minority sides in Parliament.

Dr Ruto yesterday described the clause blocking the exit of any party from Azimio until three months after the election as the height of dictatorship that he said should be stopped.

“These are people who were together with us before but were boxed into being in Azimio. Now that we are breathing fresh air and freedom has arrived, they can now make their choices. We are a free country. Freedom has arrived,” he concluded.

And just to confirm the extent of the irretrievably broken relationship between him and President Kenyatta, Dr Ruto said he had not spoken to his boss “in months”, with the Head of State having not congratulated his deputy since the declaration on August 15, and the whole of yesterday after the Supreme Court win.

“I will shortly be putting a call to my good friend President Uhuru Kenyatta. I haven't talked to him in months. I'll be calling him so that we have a conversation on the process of transition. I know he worked hard but the people of Kenya have made a decision,” said Dr Ruto in his off-the-cuff remarks.

He went on: “When I chose to support him, I gave no conditions. I take no offense that he decided to support somebody else. We will remain friends in the context of where we are. We look forward to building in the foundation we already have. There are many things we wanted to do but did not. We will complete all the projects we had not completed.”

President-elect William Ruto

President-elect William Ruto speaking on September 5, 2022.

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

Dr Ruto promised that the Head of State will be accorded a peaceful retirement.

“My administration will recognise in full the now established tradition of honouring our leaders who have served this nation and shall not, in any manner, interfere with their privileges and other entitlements in retirement. They are revered elders of our nation who deserve respect at all times,” Dr Ruto said in his written speech, avoiding to mention his former boss by name.

In his speech late last evening, President Kenyatta promised a smooth transition, saying he will respect the verdict of the Supreme Court.

“The process of handing over is in progress. It is my intention to oversee the smooth transition to the next administration and all orders to facilitate the process have been issued... I want to wish well all who have won as they guide our country into the future and I thank you all for the opportunity to serve,” said President Kenyatta in a recorded address posted on State House’s social media handles minutes after 7pm.

With Cabinet Secretaries Fred Matiangi (Interior), Peter Munya (Agriculture), Eugene Wamalwa (Defence), Joe Mucheru (ICT), and Interior PS Karanja Kibicho having openly backed Mr Odinga, with civil servants in the provincial administration accused of taking sides, Dr Ruto promised a change of course.

He took issue with the George Kinoti-led Directorate of Criminal Investigations and its conduct during the campaigns, promising a swift transformation once he takes power.

His administration, he said, will end politics that are marred with deceit, betrayal and conman ship, and will hold every Kenyan to account on what they say.

“The criminal justice system will be reserved for fighting criminals and criminality so that public resources are protected and criminals are brought to book.  It will never be used again for political reasons, or against those who have a contrary political view to ours,” Dr Ruto stated.

During the campaigns, Dr Ruto had described as illegal and against the need for a neutral civil service, the move by the CSs and PSs to openly campaign for Mr Odinga while still serving in government.

“Our competitors have nothing to fear like the way many of our supporters have had everything to fear for being our friends or for holding contrary view from those who wielded power,” Dr Ruto said.

He added: “I want our competitors to rest assured that though the rest of us have been subjected to threats, blackmail and intimidation and unnecessary fights, I commit that under our administration nobody will be vilified or victimized or prosecuted for holding a contrary political view from ours. This is a democratic country and we want to remain so,” said Dr Ruto.

The President-Elect promised to create a government for all, promising to immediately get back to work immediately he is sworn in on Tuesday, September 13.

“Those who voted for me, as well as those who voted for my competitors, want the same thing for themselves and for their children. I honour this aspiration and am committed to wake up early, work hard all day, every day, to realise it. I have pledged to make Kenya a country for everyone: My administration shall do justice to all, regardless of social status, religion, ethnicity, gender, whether you voted or whom you voted for,” he said.

Within his first 100 days in office, Dr Ruto pledged to establish a Sh50 billion Hustlers’ Fund, allocate 50 percent of his Cabinet to women, implement the problematic two-thirds gender rule for appointive and elected officials, and halt allegedly selective investigation and prosecution of corruption cases.

He also promised to allocate his Deputy President and proposed Prime Cabinet Secretary specific portfolios and responsibilities, establish a women rights agency in the Presidency and remove healthcare insurance restrictions.

He will also allocate funds to all the 47 counties for realisation of economic charters, and appoint the six nominated judges that President Uhuru Kenyatta rejected, leading to conflicts with Chief Justice Martha Koome and her predecessor David Maraga.

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