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Inside Museveni, Ruto election deal

Odinga factor again

Similarly, Odinga is again vying for the presidency this time with the backing of President Kenyatta. Museveni and Kenyatta have enjoyed good relations so Museveni has to play a delicate balancing act by showing tacit support for Ruto while also not risking to strain relations with the Kenyan leader.

Museveni and the Kenyan deputy president Ruto have met a number of times since Kenyatta’s second term began in 2017. They jointly presided over the groundbreaking of the Kapchorwa-Suam Road near the Kenya-Uganda border in August 2018. The road is meant to act as a linkage for Ugandan and Kenyan trade as part of regional integration efforts.

In March 2019, Ruto waded into the Uganda Rwanda row by slamming Rwanda for closing its borders. He was speaking at the Africa Now summit organised by the Africa Leadership Strategic Centre. “The discussion we should be having should be over the East African Federation; that is the discussion we should be having. We should not be discussing closing borders. That in my opinion is a retrogressive discussion.”

Ruto showed solidarity with Museveni at a time of heightened tensions between the latter and his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame. By mentioning the East African Federation, Ruto was echoing a Museveni talking point- the current impracticability of the Federation notwithstanding. In December 2019, Ruto paid a visit to Museveni at Mubende State Lodge. From the meeting, the Ugandan leader pledged $100,000 to the construction of William Ruto African Institute of African Studies.

At a recent July meeting in Uganda, Ruto’s bear hug with Museveni was on full display with a new twist. “You owe us a debt. Before you retire and if possible in the next two or three years, you owe us the fruition of the EA federation.” Ruto said at a function in Matugga, Wakiso district where he and the President officiated at the groundbreaking ceremony of Dei BioPharma Ltd, a multi-billion pharmaceutical drugs and mRNA vaccine manufacturing facility will be set up.

By courting Museveni’s support, Ruto is said to be shoring his foreign relations after the alienation and humiliation he has endured at the hands of the Kenyatta government.

Prof. Macharia Munene, who teaches International Relations at the United States International University in Nairobi told Daily Nation that Museveni and Ruto’s alliance seems to be natural.

“President Museveni likes to portray himself as anti-imperialist,” he said, “Raila was seen as a project of the British and Western powers – whoever is seen as an imperialist project cannot be Museveni’s friend. It appears at the moment, the anti-imperialist, at least in Museveni’s eyes, is Ruto and that is why Ruto is attracted to Museveni.” Raila was portrayed as an imperialist project in both 2013 and 2017.

Munene also said Ruto could simply be acting strategic. “Ruto does not want that when he becomes the president, he has a neighbouring head of state who is hostile. The duo also has business understanding, maybe farms here and there. All these big people have farms everywhere.”

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One comment

  1. Tribalism has pervaded the social and political construct of Kenya. We see it at the advent of its independence- under KANU and KADU. We see it in 1992 when Kenya opened up for the multiparty system the violence that erupted after the elections in the Molo region of the rift valley. We see it in 2002 elections when again Arap Moi vows for Uhuru Kenyatta to be KANU’s candidate. The violence that followed the 2007 elections. The 2017 JUBILEE and NASA coalitions. And now, Gideon Moi, Musaila Mudavadi, Kaluya Musyoka, Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga- a Kalenjin, a Luhya, a Kamba, a Kikuyu and a Luo (the big five tribes) teaming up against William Ruto who is a Kalenjin himself but what differentiates him from the rest is that he’s considered the newbie on Kenya’s Political scene……in many ways than one, he’s not any different and on the whole, it be a pot claiming the kettle to more black and much of egotism at play.

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