The war of words between politicians allied to the Deputy President William Ruto and those supporting Opposition leader Raila Odinga escalated yesterday with a group of MPs challenging the latter to resign if he is dissatisfied with President Uhuru Kenyatta’s leadership style.
At least 23 lawmakers allied to the amorphous Kieleweke group, which supports the Handshake between the President and Raila, claimed the Head of State had become “impatient” with Ruto for allegedly opposing “every initiative” he has made for the good of the country.
But minutes after the pro-Raila group threw the challenge, Ruto in his characteristic style, tweeted, accusing the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader of being a “political conman” who had perfected the art of hopping from one party to another.
He accused Raila of perpetrating violence in the country, from the 1982 attempted coup against the government of President Moi, to last week’s stand-off during the Kibra by-election.
“Tinga and his party’s trail of political conmanship and deceit from Kanu through Cord to Nasa and now heading to Jubilee; and litany of violence from 1982’ coup to Kibra cannot be hidden behind BBI,” Ruto tweeted.
The DP gave Raila two conditions before he can be “accepted”by Kenyans.
According to Ruto, Raila should as a matter of priority, renounce violence as his political tool as well as undertake to accept defeat in any future elections.
But in their bare-knuckle attack, the Kieleweke team told Ruto to take his boss, President Kenyatta, head-on instead of attacking “innocent civil servants performing their duties”.
Pro-Ruto politicians had on Tuesday accused Interior CS Fred Matiang’i and PS Karanja Kibicho of complicity in last week’s poll violence in Kibra.
They had also accused the two security chiefs of failing to take action against people who allegedly prevented Jubilee supporters from voting for their candidate, McDonald Mariga, who eventually lost to ODM candidate Imran Okoth.
The 23 MPs told Ruto to resign from President Kenyatta’s government due to his alleged resistance to the President’s programmes, including the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).
Tiaty MP William Kamket (Kanu) summed up the mood of his colleagues when he stated: “If you (Ruto) are not satisfied with how President Kenyatta has been managing this government, then, what is stopping you from resigning? Bolt out and form your own party. You have been a bother to the President. ”
Sympathetic to Ruto
MPs at the press briefing including Ben Momanyi (Borabu), Samuel Arama (Nakuru Town West), and Richard Onyonka (Kitutu Chache South), have in the past been perceived to be sympathetic to Ruto.
“You cannot claim to be supporting the President, while at the same time going ahead to undermine him. This is totally unacceptable and you must either quit from the President’s government or shut up,” said Momanyi.
The legislators spoke as ODM in a statement told off the pro-Ruto Tanga Tanga group, saying their claims of an alleged planning meeting between Raila, Matiang’i and Kibicho ahead of the Kibra by-election was part of the sour grapes after losing in the poll.
In a statement, ODM Director of Communications Philip Etale said the Ruto group was driven by “anger and shame” after losing the vote, in which the sponsor (Ruto) of their candidate had spent a fortune.
At the Parliament press conference, the MPs, led by Kamket, Momanyi, Raphael Wanjala (Budalangi), Gathoni Wamuchomba (Kiambu County), Abdikarim Osman (Fafi) and Mishi Mboko (Likoni), claimed Ruto was pretending to be supporting the President “yet he has been undermining him by frustrating public servants whom he has appointed to work for him”.
They claimed Uhuru had been forced by the Constitution to work with Ruto despite the DP failing to support his initiatives.
The Raila allies now want the BBI team to propose amendments to the Constitution to give the President powers to sack his deputy whenever he becomes “a nuisance to him like in the current circumstances”.
Momanyi regretted that the current Constitution had made Uhuru vulnerable as he cannot sack his deputy even when he is openly frustrating his administration.
“We need changes in our Constitution so that the President can sack a deputy who decides to be rogue mid-term. You cannot claim to be the deputy when you continuously undermine your boss on any project that he embarks on,” said Momanyi.
Defending Matiang’i from attacks from pro-Ruto MPs, Fafi legislator Osman said: “ Matiangi was given a job by Uhuru just like his PS and as MPs we are willing to work with him. If you feel that you do not want to work with these people, please resign.”
The lawmakers claimed utterances by the Tanga Tanga team against Matiang’i and Kibicho were part of Ruto’s plans to make Uhuru government look bad as well as to create a narrative that the DP is being unfairly targeted by the State.
“We dismiss this narrative and wish to inform them that Kenyans know who is pro and against corruption and the BBI and who likes peddling the politics of hate and vendetta,” said Wanjala.
Leader of Majority Aden Duale appeared to come to Ruto’s support when he told off the legislators for challenging the DP to leave the government due to his alleged opposition to the President.
“Whereas I am nobody’s sycophant, these MPs cannot purport to speak for Jubilee. They are not in Jubilee and I have no time for opposition sycophants,” said Duale.