Deputy President William Ruto was on Sunday cleared by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to contest the presidency in August, marking a significant step in his political career.
Dr Ruto was cleared alongside his running mate Rigathi Gachagua at the Bomas of Kenya. IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati said the two met the requirements set by the commission.
The DP is the fourth presidential candidate to be cleared by the commission after Roots Party leader George Wajackoyah, Mr Walter Mong’are of Umoja Summit Party and Mr David Mwaura Waihiga of Agano party.
Dr Ruto arrived at Bomas of Kenya shortly after 10am, accompanied by Mr Gachagua and several other leaders allied to the Kenya Kwanza alliance.
The Kenya Kwanza team present said clearing of Dr Ruto to gun for the country’s presidency is a milestone for the alliance, which has been campaigning on promises of reviving Kenya’s economy and creating jobs for millions of young people.
Dr Ruto and Mr Gachagua were in matching suits. Their supporters, many who began streaming to the venue as early as 8am, were in yellow United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party T-shirts.
The DP and his allies said the clearance set the pace for the August 9 contest.
“You have not seen our campaigns yet. You will witness what you have never seen from today,” he told journalists.
After his date with the IEBC, the Kenya Kwanza team held roadside rallies in several estates in Nairobi, culminating in a huge meeting at the historic Kamkunji grounds.
Dr Ruto and his team were accompanied by a boda boda and a fruit vendor to the clearance table.
Both acted as his proposer and witness.
Mrs Pauline Waithera, a greengrocer in Kiambu town and Mr Calvince Ochieng, a boda boda in Kangemi, said their presence at Bomas of Kenya confirmed that Kenya Kwanza is a team of the common person.
The two claimed to be UDA life members.
Leaders at Bomas of Kenya included Amani National Congress chief Musalia Mudavadi, Bungoma Senator and Ford Kenya boss Moses Wetang’ula, National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi and Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua.
Dr Ruto said his clearance by the electoral commission, was a big step in his quest for the country’s presidency and a fulfilment of the dreams and the aspirations of the “Hustler” nation.
“I am delighted to receive the certificate that will allow Kenya Kwanza participate in this year’s General Election. This is a moment of our lifetime and we must do everything to protect it from violence, sideshows, shouting matches and contests that are outside the focus of the elections,” he said.
Shortly after the commission presented him with the certificate, the DP said his first order of business, if elected president, would be to “free the country from the shackles of economic saboteurs”.
He accused the “saboteurs” of holding the economy hostage to the detriment of millions of ordinary Kenyans.
Dr Ruto added that his government would prioritise “a labour intensive economy that will promote the creation of jobs for all”.
He promised to reduce the excessive borrowing by the government and restructure the already borrowed loans.
“From today, it shall not be about sharing power among leaders, but about the people of Kenya – their aspirations, wishes, dreams and how the political architecture of our country will deliver for the millions of young people who do not have jobs. This is the journey we are beginning,” Dr Ruto said.
He accused President Uhuru Kenyatta and Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga of prioritising politics at the expense of development following the March 9 2018 handshake between the two leaders.
Big Four agenda
“We had a solid plan to build on what we accomplished in our first term. The plan was in the Big Four agenda. But that was not materialised because the handshake debacle denied the people of Kenya the chance to move their country forward,” he said.
At least 11 presidential aspirants had appeared before the Chebukati committee to be cleared to contest the presidency by yesterday, six as independent and the remaining from political parties.
The Deputy President said he has faith and confidence in the electoral agency, warning those he accused of planning to rig the vote against “taking the country back to the dark old days”.
He said Kenya Kwanza has appointed Tharaka Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki its chief agent.
According to Dr Ruto, Prof Kindiki will work with electoral commission.
Prof Kindiki will be assisted by UDA Secretary General Veronica Maina and Dr Ruto’s presidential campaign secretariat head and Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok.
“Kenya Kwanza has confidence in the IEBC. We believe the commission is up to the task. My team will work with you to have a credible, free, fair and verifiable General Election,” he added.
“We ask the commission to be vigilant. There are desperate people who have been telling whoever cares to listen that since they have no plan or agenda, the only thing left for them is to try and manipulate the August election.”
At Kamukunji grounds, Dr Ruto accused President Kenyatta and the Odinga-led Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition party of being blind to the plight of millions of Kenyans, saying the opposing team is only interested in creating jobs and positions for leaders.
“Ignorance and hunger are no longer the issues Kenyans face. The biggest problem is inequality. The trickle down economic model has created few billionaires. Through the bottom-up model, we will lift many Kenyans from poverty by agro-processing, enterprise creation and other labour-intensive projects,” he said.
Earlier, the DP and his Kenya Kwanza team held rallies in South B, South C, Mukuru, Gikomba and Majengo.
Mr Gachagua said the Kenya Kwanza administration would promote the welfare of police officers and other government employees.
“The relation between police and citizens has deteriorated. Our government will invest in police welfare and improve their remuneration,” he said.
Mr Mudavadi and Mr Wetang’ula said the Kenya Kwanza team would emerge victorious in August.