BY JOAN WANJIKU,NAIROBI,2ND AUG 2022- Amateur footage showing Deputy President William Ruto in tears emerged on Tuesday as the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) prepared for the final stretch of his presidential campaign amid a rising tide of attacks from his former ally, now fierce critic, President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Ruto was attending a prayer meeting at his official State residence in Karen which was led by Bishop Mark Kariuki and attended by a host of leaders allied to the Kenya Kwanza Alliance which supports his State House ambition.
The footage marked the second time Ruto has been seen expressing emotions in public, the only other instance having been documented in March 2013 when the UDA leader was Deputy President-Elect following a presidential election victory with Kenyatta under the TNA-URP coalition which birthed the Jubilee Party in 2017.
Ruto who has fashioned himself a a pro-church candidate out to protect the freedom to worship has termed the August 9 presidential election as “more of a spiritual battle than a political battle”.
In the latest escalation, Ruto told off Kenyatta saying he was ready to pay the ultimate price in a soaring conflict with the Head of State but asked him to keep his family out of it.
“As long as you don’t kill my children, I am ready to face you in this election with your project,” Ruto said while claiming a desperate attempt to hand Raila Odinga, Kenyatta’s preferred successor whom he labelled as a ‘project’, the reigns of power by sabotaging elections.
“Stop engaging me my friend, kindly push your own candidate. Mr President please, stop talking about me, talk about your candidate. Tell us Raila’s agenda and leave William Ruto alone,” he added.
President Kenyatta however fired back on Sunday saying he had no intention to harm Ruto despite what he termed as provocation by Deputy President.
“There is no need of telling people that I want to kill you,” President Kenyatta charged in off the cuff remarks during the launch of the Nairobi Expressway.
“Haven’t you insulted me for three years? Has anyone touched you? Have I not been in government in the three years when I had all the powers?” he posed.
Ruto, seen as the de facto leader of opposition after the 2018 truce between Kenyatta and official opposition leader Raila Odinga, has been increasing sidelined in government in a fierce onslaught led by his own boss, a leader he passionately campaigned for thrice, twice under the Jubilee Coalition.
The Uhuru-Ruto bromance birthed on December 2, 2012 when the duo led their respective parties TNA and URP in sealing a pre-election deal had faded away and replaced by dramatic public attacks characterized with hate.
The escalating war within the Jubilee Party the two leaders formed after folding their parties and winning over a dozen other political outfits has seen Ruto’s allies striped of their lucrative positions both in Cabinet and Parliament.
The Deputy President has remained a fierce critic of the ‘handshake’, a deal sealed between President Kenyatta and Ruto’s archrival Raila Odinga in March 2018, often blaming it for Jubilee administration’s failure in the second term.
He led his camp in resisting the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) constitutional review process co-led by President Kenyatta and Odinga much to the annoyance of his boss.
In February 2022, Ruto was replaced as the Deputy Party Leader in Jubilee months after being declared persona non grata at the party’s headquarters.
The party proceeded to unveil Odinga as its preferred presidential candidate.