Deputy President William Ruto on Tuesday accused his rival -- Azimio presidential flag bearer Raila Odinga -- of running away from accountability by skipping the presidential debate. Dr Ruto further sad that Mr Odinga is not ‘a real candidate’ in the upcoming polls but a ‘project’.
In the planned debate which turned into an interview of Dr Ruto following Mr Odinga’s absence, the country’s second-in-command seized the opportunity to launch a scathing attack on the Azimio candidate, whom he accused of being a puppet of “his Handshake brother” – President Uhuru Kenyatta.
“My competitor is not here because he is not the real candidate. He is a project. He has not come for debate because he is dodging difficult questions,” Dr Ruto said.
He added: “My competitor is not here because he doesn’t have a plan. He doesn’t have an agenda. He cannot articulate anything to the people of Kenya that’s why he is not here.”
Dr Ruto, the Keny Kwanza presidential candidate, faulted Mr Odinga of having “very little regard for the people of Kenya” by skipping the debate.
He termed Mr Odinga’s absence as “total contempt to the people of Kenya.”
“They think deep State and the system is going to make the decision. I want to tell the people of Kenya tonight that they are the ones who will make the decision on August 9 and that their vote is what will make the next government happen,” Dr Ruto said in his concluding remarks at the debate conducted at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) in Karen, Nairobi.
Dr Ruto said Mr Odinga is part of the Jubilee government by virtue of his “Handshake” deal with President Kenyatta.
The “Handshake” refers to the truce between Mr Odinga and the President birthed on the doors of the president’s Harambee House office on March 9, 2018.
“Secondly, he (Mr Odinga) is not here because he doesn’t want to answer difficult questions…you know, he’s been part of this administration, the ‘Handshake’ administration for the last five years. Kemsa happened and many other things happened, in fact my competitor could not come here because he is not the real candidate, he is a project,” the DP said during the debate attended by a section of foreign envoys.
The DP claimed that the the second term of the Jubilee administration had been characterised by poor performance due to the “Handshake” between the president and Mr Odinga.
“The Big Four agenda was sabotaged because of the handshake equation. Immediately we changed course and the whole Big Four plan was shelved.
“We went to handshake, to BBI (Building Bridges Initiative) and the rest is history. We didn’t get the time to do what we had promised the people of Kenya,” he said.
He also suggested that his attempts to reach out to President Kenyatta to salvage the Jubilee programs failed.
“I tried as it has been a tradition for me to support my boss and many times I tried to push the Big Four plan to the extent that my boss the president asked me that he wanted to do things differently and he requested that he wanted to assemble a different group of people to help him deliver on what he wanted to be the legacy of the fourth president and unfortunately the Big Four suffered a big blow because the whole of that program did not take place.”
He went on: "What failed in the Big 4 Agenda in terms of food security was that it was sabotaged. We changed course and the whole plan was shelved because of the Handshake equation.”