The Ghosts Of President Vs Deputy President Domestics Are Back Featuring Ruto-Gachagua

What seemed like an eternal bromance of political soulmates between Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto in 2017 set the genesis of a fallout trend between Kenya’s head-of-state and their deputy.

The duo had already served a 5-year term from 2013 and their evident comradeship would start souring after taking the nation’s reigns for a second round.

On August 9, 2018, Ruto publicly expressed his distrust for the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), an outcome of the March 2018 peace pact between the president and Odinga – his long-time opposition foe.

The initiative was a product of the famous public handshake between Kenyatta and Odinga – a moment now colloquially referred to as “The Handshake”.

The political truce between the president and the opposition leader led to an open breakup between Ruto and Kenyatta and began an opposition movement within the government.

Differences between Ruto and Uhuru continued to play out in the public during separate political gatherings and official State events which became acidic during the tumultuous 2022 polls.

What felt like a breath of fresh air came when Ruto won the polls alongside his unfamiliar running mate Rigathi Gachagua.

The duo, however lacking the vivacious bromance Ruto shared with his previous boss, took Kenya’s reigns and set the ball rolling. This was amid harsh ridicule from Kenyans and some political quotas that the duo lacked chemistry.

“I chose Gachagua because he cares about the common person. He is a hard-working man who has always faced challenges head on and I have confidence in him,” Ruto once responded to why he chose Gachagua.

Clearing the air, he said: “People said that if Ruto picks me as his deputy I will cause trouble but that is not true. If you are brought up in a united family like I was, you cannot change when you are old. I am a man who has been in uniform (referring to his service as a District Officer) and the language I know is to say ‘Yes Sir’ to my boss.”

Now a year and eight months into office, the same ghosts that bedevilled Ruto and Uhuru Kenyatta have started hovering over him and Gachagua.

There have been murmurs about unease in the Ruto-Gachagua camp but the pandora’s box was burst open this past weekend when the DP went on a rant about people wanting to cause a rift between him and the President.

Mid-May it was rumoured that there was a fallout between Gachagua and Ruto which was exacerbated when Gachagua went AWOL and did not attend several high-profile events graced by the President.

At the time Gachagua was conspicuously missing from key state functions and speculations intensified when Transport CS Kipchumba Murkomen and Opposition Leader Raila Odinga saw off Uganda President Yoweri Museveni during his three-day state visit to Kenya.

President Ruto was in Rwanda when Museveni left the country. It was expected that his deputy Gachagua would see Museveni off.

The DP was also missing during the tree-planting holiday as Ruto and other government officials spearheaded the exercise in various parts of the country.

Finally, during the funeral of his former teacher, Gachagua broke his silence saying that he had taken a break to meditate, pray, and fast for the country inside the vast Mt. Kenya forest.

“I had taken seven days away for prayers and fasting, for reflection and meditation in the heart of Mt.Kenya forest,” Gachagua told mourners.

At a different event, he clarified that there are no cracks in the Kenya Kwanza government a statement that his boss made some seven years ago when rumours of a fallout with Kenyatta emerged.

Gachagua claimed that the rumours are being floated by a few errant leaders attempting to thwart his efforts to unite the Mt. Kenya region. Again, an almost exact quote that Ruto made in 2018.

“The president and I are working together amicably, we love and respect each other and are doing our work perfectly. He has assigned me lots of duties, some are overwhelming and he has facilitated me to continue with my work. So our government is united and we are working,” Gachagua said during an address in Uasin Gishu County.

“The problem is a few leaders here from this region who have proximity to the President ndio wanakoroga siasa ya huko kwetu kudanganya watu eti waaanze kupanga mambo ya 2032,” he added.

The Hitback 

Gachagua’s sentiments have however not been received warmly by leaders in the Rift region as Kapsaret MP Oscar Sudi on Sunday appeared to respond to claims that some leaders from the Rift Valley are behind his alleged fallout with Ruto.

Speaking during a church function, Sudi, a close ally of Ruto, said leaders should shun divisive and tribal politics, and at the same time respect each other.

Sudi particularly pointed out at the Saturday meeting held by Gachagua and a section of leaders allied to him in Kesses, Uasin Gishu county, where the second in command castigated some leaders close to the president for what he said was causing bad blood between him and his boss.

“You cannot control where I go. If we all stayed in our respective constituencies then we would not be in government. We had to fly all over the country to ask Kenyans to elect this government. I am not someone you can threaten. I have been threatened enough and this does not move me,” Sudi responded.

“You know I got this thing from Ruto. He passed it to me because now he is concentrating on national matters. So I have to continue doing this in any part of the country,” Sudi added.

Kisii Senator Richard Onyonka has also delved into the ongoing tiff, opining that if the fracas is prolonged to next year then there will be a permanent fallout.

Speaking on Citizen TV’s Daybreak show on Monday, Onyonka said that if Kenya’s “software of our political engagement” will not change then the fallout trend between the president and their deputies will not find an end.

“Even us we thought that disagreeing with Uhuru was just something, how can they disagree? At some point there is a steep in politics where beyond that red line you cannot reverse it,” he said.

“By next year if this war continues like this Gachagua will be gone and William Ruto will be gone. The question then becomes does Gachagua or Ruto move to the west (Western Kenya) to go and pick a vice president and also what happens to that vice president after Ruto wins his second term. Will he also be betrayed?”

President Ruto has remained tight-lipped on the matter.

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