Ruto allies at a press conference in Parliament on March 11, 2020
Ruto allies at a press conference in Parliament on March 11, 2020

By Reporter

Deputy President William Ruto is a man under siege and could be removed from office.

Kenya’s biggest political players have ganged up against him and have hatched a plot that may prematurely end his tenure as the country’s second in command.

 They include a section of MPs from President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee, Raila Odinga’s ODM, Musalia Mudavadi’s ANC, Kalonzo Musyoka’s Wiper and Gideon Moi’s Kanu.

Ruto, according to people close to him, has vowed not to quit despite looking isolated.

Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria said the DP was going nowhere and those planning to impeach him were wasting their time.

“If ODM has two options and one of them is DP Ruto resigning, take it from me that Ruto is not resigning because he is not anybody’s appointee. He was elected on the ballot,” Kuria said.

At a no-holds-barred press briefing, about 50 MPs from across the political divide yesterday accused Ruto of dishonesty, acquisition of unexplained wealth and unjust enrichment as among many grounds why he must quite.

The statement was the culmination of days of rising tension within government after Ruto indirectly accused Uhuru of using investigative agencies to scuttle his 2022 presidential bid.

Baringo Woman Rep Gladwell Cheruiyot (Kanu) and Kathiani MP Robert Mbui (Wiper) read the hard-hitting statement.

“The Deputy President is definitely guilty of public misconduct and grave malpractices and has not lived up to the oath of office that he subscribed before assuming office,” Mbui said in the joint statement.

Their resolution was one and unanimous: Ruto has no option but to resign.

“He must shape up or ship out,” they demanded.

For the first time, the MPs listed integrity questions which they claimed hang around the DP’s neck.

They accused Ruto of persistently attacking state officers including Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho, DPP Noordin Haji and DCI boss George Kinoti.

“He has claimed that the system has been mobilised to bring him down and persistently alleged that his life is in danger. In recent attacks, he has not spared the President with a crude and sinister reference to the purported existence of a deep state,” Cheruiyot said.

Impeaching a Deputy President
Impeaching a Deputy President Courtesy of the Star

The MPs said Ruto is the second highest-ranking member of the National Security Council.

As such he exercises supervisory control over national security organs and is therefore well placed to deal with challenges or questions that may arise concerning operations of security organs.

“The Deputy President should, therefore, be the last person to complain against government institutions in funerals and along roadsides. That can only undermine the authority and mandate of government institutions and may well constitute an offence against public order,” she said.

They said Ruto had been tainted by maize scandals, land grabbing allegations and the Arror and Kimwarer graft case.

According to the lawmakers, the Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly openly accused Ruto of launching ghost projects.

“He does not launch projects as an appropriate and official undertaking. To the contrary, he is driven by an overriding, selfish and extraneous objective of promoting his egoistic ambitions to attain the office of the President in 2022 by whatever means,” said Mbui.

In a clear signal that the centre no longer holds, Ruto’s allies countered that there was a grand scheme to reconstitute government so that ODM can occupy half of the Cabinet.

The DP’s men turned the heat on Raila whom they accused of being behind the plot, alleging the ODM boss was campaigning to be made chief minister in President Kenyatta’s administration.

In their statement, the pro-Kenyatta lawmakers said Ruto has blatantly disobeyed his boss, which they said constituted gross misconduct and an act of insubordination.

Baringo Senator and Kanu chairman Gideon Moi, who is Ruto’s fiercest rival, was not present but he is believed to have endorsed the statement.

Before the statement was read, Nominated MP Maina Kamanda pointed out that MPs were drawn from various parties.

“This is not a statement by ODM, ANC, Jubilee, Wiper or Kanu. It is a statement by members of both Houses,” he said.

Mbui said the authority and respect of the government had been subverted by the integrity issues facing the Deputy President.

“ He [Ruto] needs time and undivided attention to pursue the only thing and ambition that makes sense and has meaning in his life – dream and campaign for the 2022 presidential election,” he said.

Senate Minority Leader James Orengo on Sunday announced that in the next two weeks, he would sponsor an impeachment motion against Ruto over the fake Sh40 billion arms deal and the killing of a police officer.

Orengo was also among the group of legislators that called the press conference at Nairobi Serena.

ODM leader Raila Odinga was also at Serena around the same time, but it was not clear if he had met the group.

Impeaching Ruto is, however, not a walk in the park given the high threshold the Constitution places to remove one from office through the process.

At least two-thirds of all the members of the Senate need to vote to uphold any impeachment charge for Ruto to cease to hold office.

Incidentally, the National Assembly has just published the Impeachment Procedure Bill 2018 for the public to gives their views.

The Bill provides the procedure for removal from office by the impeachment of the President and Deputy President.

Yesterday, the MPs said the Deputy President must be at the forefront in complying with the responsibilities of leadership as spelt out in Chapter Six of the Constitution.

At the press conference were legislators Mutula Kilonzo, Ayub Savula, Kanini Kega, Godfrey Osotsi, Fatuma Gedi, James Orengo, Cleophas Malala, James Nyikal, John Mbadi, Millie Odhiambo, Ephraim Maina, Otiende Amollo, Samuel Poghisio and Gladys Wanga among others.

But in a rejoinder, about 70 lawmakers allied to Ruto dared  Uhuru to dissolve Parliament to stage fresh elections.

The MPs further alleged that Raila was already campaigning to be made chief minister in President Kenyatta’s administration.

They restated claims by DP Ruto that the DCI was being used to plan frivolous accusations to tarnish the DP’s name.

They held that the machinations are part of ODM’s strategy for a “nusu mkate” government with President Kenyatta.

In a statement read by Meru Senator Mithika Linturi, the leaders further claimed there was a plan to charge Ruto with any crime in order to bar him from vying for the Presidency in 2022.

The politicians, in response to their pro-handshake colleagues, watered down the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) saying it has nothing to do with uniting Kenyans.

“It has everything to do with his insatiable appetite for power that has been evident since the 1982 coup,” Linturi said.

“The BBI process has been fraudulently hijacked by Raila who has been going around the county using it to insult the Deputy President.”

In the bold statement, the MPs revisited the 2007 post-election violence claiming it was Raila who fixed Ruto at the International Criminal Court.

They cited the ODM’s refusal to concede defeat in the disputed election as the event that sparked the matters that saw Ruto taken to The Hague.