18 June 2019

Kenya's Kenyatta-Ruto Rift Widens

Kenya watches with bewilderment as a political rift between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto over policy worsens, barely two years after their re-election for a second five year term.

On Sunday President Kenyatta launched a blistering attack on so-called "thugs" who he accuses of "undermining his quest to leave a legacy of a united country", when he bows out in 2022.

The Nairobi-based Standard newspaper claims that Kenyatta's remarks during a church function in Nairobi were clearly directed at the Tanga Tanga movement which has launched an early campaign to support William Ruto's bid to take over from Kenyatta.

Political opportuniusm

"Let them not think that I am their small boy," warned Uhuru who vowed to hit back at the right time on those he branded as dirt.says Protus Onyango, a senior political affairs correspondent with the Nairobi-based Standard media group.

"His remarks were directed at a group called Tanga Tanga, from Uhuru's Mount Kenya home region, who have abandoned him to join Ruto.

"I was not given votes by them, I am the one who looked for votes for them, President Kenyatta bluntly stated, after being invited to say a few words to hundreds of Akorino Church followers gathered for a rally at the Kasarani sports complex.

Achilles heel

According to Protus Onyango, "when the President says let us drop corruption, Tanga Tanga teams will come and say you are targeting Ruto", Onyango explains.

As he noted, some of the turn coats think that because it Uhuru's last term, they can defy him.

He confirmed there were persistent allegations of maneuvers within the ruling Jubilee coalition to impeach Ruto for "graft by extension" in cases involving the Cabinet Secretaries for energy, agriculture and finance.

In his opinion, "this actually the beginning of the Jubilee coalition's death".

No killing the beatle

The Standard reporter names Senate Minority Leader James Orengo as one of the top MPs campaigning for Ruto's sacking as it would revive opposition leader Raila Odinga's prospects of becoming president in 2022.

Daily Nation reports that Ruto laughed off at the idea of a prospective Odinga candidature on Saturday saying it stood no chance.

But the senior Kenyan journalist warns the Vice President not to celebrate too early.

"If MPs close to the President unite with those of the opposition, then William Ruto's impeachment is possible", argues Protus Onyango.

The best for last

The Standard correspondent concludes with what appears to be Uhuru Kenyatta's atomic weapon he could use against Ruto.

"Through the famous Kenyatta-Odinga handshake, the country is peaceful, and it will not be a shock if Uhuru backs Raila for President if the 74 year-old opposition leader chooses to run in 2022".

That may be the "big surprise" Kenyatta said he was preparing "to shock Kenyans with" when time comes for him to "pronounce himself on his own succession".

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