How Uhuru, Ruto duped me in 2012

Wednesday, December 4th, 2019 00:00 |
Musalia Mudavadi (left), Uhuru Kenyatta (centre) and William Ruto after signing a coalition deal at a Nairobi hotel in 2012. The pact collapsed two days later. Photo/PD/FILE

Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi has for the first time shared the intrigues that saw him lose an almost guaranteed chance to succeed President Mwai Kibaki in 2013 as a compromise candidate.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto, who at the time were battling charges of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court (ICC), according to Mudavadi, had in December 2012 promised to drop out of the presidential race in his favour.

They feared that charges would stand on their way, the former Vice President says in his yet to be launched autobiography titled Musalia Mudavadi: Soaring Above the Storms of Passion, authored by publisher and communication expert Barrack Muluka who is also the ANC Secretary general

He, however, completed his State House race on a United Development Forum (UDF) ticket, after ditching ODM when his hopes of becoming the party’s flag-bearer or running mate were dashed.

At the time, both Uhuru and Mudavadi were deputy prime ministers in the Grand Coalition government of  President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga. Ruto was then Eldoret North MP and had just ditched Raila’s ODM party after a major fall out. 

While Uhuru, Raila and Ruto had managed to marshal support from their respective backyards, Mudavadi appeared like a fringe candidate despite having a big name, and therefore the offer by the two (Uhuru and Ruto) was irresistible.

Mudavadi, who during the 2013 elections came a distant third after garnering 500,000 votes, recounts how the surprising offer was exciting and the disappointment that followed when Uhuru recanted it.

In the 418-page book, Mudavadi says he was busy at his Nairobi Riverside residence planning his presidential bid when one of his workers alerted him that Uhuru and Ruto were outside. He describes them as “unexpected visitors.”

“They wanted to see me. I ushered them in at once,” he recalls of the incident that happened seven years ago.

The trio exchanged niceties and a polite talk for a while over “a cup of tea and sundries.” “Soon they came to the point, breaking the awkwardness of this (their) impromptu meeting at this critical time (near an election).

In short, they were asking me to join them in their election effort. They were concerned that the ICC saga could come in their way,” Mudavadi writes.

Different parties

A section of the international community was at the time against Kenya electing the two who were presidential candidate  and running mate under different parties. The National Alliance party (Uhuru) and United Republican Party (Ruto), branding them suspects whose victory would have consequences.

The two, who were later acquitted by the Hague-based court after failing to get credible evidence against them, were accused on bearing the greatest responsibility over the 2007/2008 post-election clashes which left 1, 300 dead and more than  350,000 people displaced.

Mudavadi says while in his house, the two proposed to him to become their joint presidential candidate, “to be fielded against Raila”, who they accused of “fixing” them at the ICC to suppress competition.

“We deliberated over the matter for a while, after which I asked them to allow me to invite my close associates to this meeting.

I reached out to (Boni) Khalwale, Mukhisa Kituyi and Dan Ameyo (UDF Secretary general) to come in as my witnesses in this development and dialogue,” he says in the book.

After the three joined them, Mudavadi says a one-page Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was hurriedly drawn but with a window for further dialogue and signing of a more detailed agreement.

Uhuru, who was banking on his vote-rich Mount Kenya backyard, asked for a few days so that he could bring in his supporters up to speed with the new development. They agreed to meet after about two days.

Meanwhile, they would get busy behind the scenes laying out a formidable campaign machinery that would humiliate Raila at the polls. They had agreed to make a formal announcement “after Uhuru finished with his people”, but the message travelled “ahead of us” and in no time, it was all over the media that the two had pulled out of the race in Mudavadi’s favour.

Though this has not been captured, aspirants from Mount Kenya region, who were vying on the defunct TNA party, warned that if his name would not be on the ballot, “they would take all the region’s votes to Bondo (Raila).” 

At the time, Uhuru had gone out of the public limelight for days despite being a tough campaign period. Despite the protest from Mount Kenya, Mudavadi was hoping that the deal, which would have made him Kenya’s fourth president, would be respected. However, that was not to be.

“The moment never came. It would never come. For, we were shocked to see, after two days, footage in the media showing Uhuru on TV recanting.

It was a fairly intemperate Uhuru who announced at a rally in his backyard that some demons had misled him to try to step down. He was, however, still very much in the race,” Mudavadi writes.

He is referring to a rally the president held at Kiambu town on December 8, 2012 where he reassured his supporters that he was still in the race to succeed Kibaki.

Spreading rumours

“There are people who are spreading rumours that I have dropped this presidential bid. I had just taken a rest from the political activities after signing the pre-elections deal (with Ruto),” Uhuru said, adding: “I want to say that I am there (in the race) and I am not going back and I am not fearing to go for nominations with anybody because if Kenyans want you, they will pick you.” 

Mudavadi, a soft-spoken politician, goes states that the demons were cautioned “not to try and reap where they had not sown, to gather where they had noted scattered”. From the tone and the timing of the message, Mudavadi writes that he understood he was the demon which Uhuru was referring to. 

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