Raila Odinga approached me 4 times on ‘handshake’, says DP Ruto

Deputy President spills beans on Uhuru-Raila handshake.

William Ruto

Deputy President William Ruto at his office in Nairobi, FILE PICTURE

Deputy President William Ruto has spilled the beans on some of the intricate behind-the-scenes happenings that preceded the March 9 handshake between President Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga.

In a hard-hitting revelation on Tuesday evening, Mr Ruto exposed how Mr Odinga made several overtures to him, on phone and through emissaries, seeking an engagement but he declined because he did not believe his sincerity.

“Raila Odinga approached me four times to have a discussion but I declined,” Dr Ruto said in an interview with Citizen TV.

“I told him we have only one centre of command … I informed the president, whom I told I will not engage Raila.”

The DP said that his scepticism in engaging the former premier stemmed from the fact that he did not believe that Mr Odinga’s his advances were in “good faith”.

He pointed out to the aftermath of a merger between Kanu and Mr Odinga’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), and the quick fallout between former President Mwai Kibaki and the ODM leader in Narc government as some of the lessons that fueled his scepticism.

“We spoke on phone and it was after the president had appointed the first six Cabinet secretaries. He (Mr Odinga) made suggestions of me being short-changed and so I did not engage him further. I told him the president is the head of the party and we were not running a coalition,” he said.

Mr Ruto said his reservations have been vindicated, highlighting instances where ODM deputy party leader Ali Hassan Joho, in a rally in Busia, said that they must fight Ruto.

He also cited Siaya Senator James Orengo’s talk of a 2022 deal between Mr Odinga and Mr Kenyatta.

Dr said added that Mr Orengo was being used by former Jubilee Party official David Murathe to sponsor a censure motion against him.

The former Eldoret North MP laughed off claims that he was kept in the dark about the ‘handshake’, saying that it was not necessary for President Kenyatta to inform him about the discussion as he already knew of Mr Odinga’s plans.

“That is the reality of what happened. So when I see people standing on podiums saying things then I do not know how dishonest people can be,” he said.

Asked on why President Kenyatta went ahead to broker the deal with Mr Odinga despite his misgivings, Mr Ruto said he believes the president consulted widely before arriving at the decision to work with the former premier.

“We consult on a daily basis with the president but you we are all different and the president has more latitude, powers and I believe he consulted beyond me before the handshake,” he said.

The DP observed that he is in support of the handshake despite what is being peddled around that he is against it.

The handshake, he said, was meant to foster unity across the country and he believes has been achieved so far.

“Yes I can say that it is working to an extent. There are currently no demonstrations, no people quarreling in the streets and businesses are running without problems,” he said.


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