They were out to humiliate me, Ruto says of aborted trip

Thursday, August 5th, 2021 00:00 |
Deputy President William Ruto. PHOTO/PD

Deputy President William Ruto for the first time opened up yesterday on the cancellation of his private visit to Uganda on Monday.

Speaking during a morning interview on Inooro radio and TV, Ruto said the people who blocked his trip were out to humiliate him and depict him as weak and powerless.

Ruto said he was shocked by being stopped from attending to his personal and private business, adding that he was not on official duty.

“There is a song Matatizo Tumeyazoea. There are many MPs who have been de-whipped from key (parliamentary) committees.

I have also been sidelined. What happened was to belittle me so that I’m seen as worthless,” lamented Ruto, adding that there was no law requiring him to seek permission to visit any leader, more so on private business.

He revealed that he was flying to Uganda to attend the commissioning of a Covid-19 vaccine plant put up by a foreign investor.

Ruto said he had helped a Turkish investor Harun Aydin acquire a Sh15 billion loan from Equity Bank to construct the factory which he and three businessmen alongside his close allies were scheduled to commission.

He defended the presence of Aydin in Kenya, saying the Turkish Embassy had cleared him to conduct his business.

Terror claims

“I helped him on one phone call. He said the benefits Ugandans will get are the same that Kenyans will get.

There were three businessmen in that trip. The Turkish Embassy has issued a statement confirming that the gentleman is an investor who has a valid work permit,” he said.

He said that East African Community (EAC) citizens do not need a visa or passport to travel around the region.

“We have continental free trade area. People are supposed to do business freely,” he said.

On Monday, it emerged that Ruto was to travel to Uganda with the Turkish businessman, but it was later reported that Aydin had been arrested in Frankfurt, Germany, in October 2001 on charges of “having planned serious acts of violence as a member of a terrorist group with an Islamic fundamentalist background.”

Ruto said it was regrettable that the presence of investors could be politicised to a point of calling them terrorists.

“Those trying to claim that this person is a terrorist are destroying the image of our country.

How can you call a person who has invested in the country a terrorist,?” he asked.

He went on: “People are trying to brand Aydin as a terrorist yet he is an investor. This is how we scare investors away from Kenya.”

Ruto, who had visited the neighbouring country early last month, termed officials  involved in the cancellation of the Monday trip as “foolish and selfish.”

Kuna ujinga, upambavu ambayo inaingia watu maanake hawataki kuuliza nini kimenipeleka huko. (You see the DP and his allies on a trip and want to jump into conclusions…),” he lamented.

Clearance documents

Ruto explained that on Monday while at Wilson Airport preparing to depart to Entebbe for the ceremony, an immigration officer told him that he was not allowed to travel without authorisation.

Ruto said that during the nine years that he has served as Deputy President, he has never been asked to seek approval to travel outside the country, adding he was surprised to be asked for documents he had never used before.

He explained that he had visited countries including Zanzibar, Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and even across the globe but he had never been asked to seek permission to travel.

However, in an interview with Citizen TV yesterday, Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho maintained that it is mandatory for Ruto to seek clearance from the President through the Head of Public Service before traveling out of the country.

“Even if for nine years, the Deputy President has not been asked for any clearance, it doesn’t mean the Immigration officer who asked for it made a mistake. It is a legal requirement that he knows,” Kibicho said.

“The Immigration officers have a duty to check and confirm all documents before allowing anyone to travel.

I know what the law says, as a public servant you must produce a clearance document,” he said, adding that: “I also produce it. It’s that simple.”

Yesterday, Ruto maintained that his business in Uganda was private and is not one that should be dragged into the public discourse.

He said Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni is a friend of many leaders and wondered why it should be an issue when he (Museveni) is warming up to him.

“Yoweri Museveni is a friend of Kenya’s President, he is my friend. I have even campaigned for him.

All Nasa leaders have once campaigned for Museveni. How can it be okay when he is their friend, but there is a problem when he is a friend of the DP? Am I not entitled to friends,?” he posed.

Ruto said he has the freedom to move in East Africa, saying it defeats logic why he was being detained yet there are policies allowing free movement of people in the region.

“How is it that we want to do the opposite by blocking people? Why should we have the free trade agreements in place,?” he asked.

The Deputy President is today expected to meet lawmakers allied to him ostensibly to deliberate on the bottom-up economy as well as his presidential ambitions.

A number of MPs who confirmed the meeting at Ruto’s Karen residence, however, declined to divulge the agenda but sources confirmed that Ruto’s abortive trip to Uganda is expected to feature prominently.

“The meeting is there but you will have to wait until tomorrow. We will issue a statement,” Soy MP Caleb Kositany said.

MPs Kimani Ichung’wah (Kikuyu), Ndindi Nyoro (Kiharu) and David Sankok also confirmed the meeting but declined to divulge the agenda.

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