Third Eye

Why efforts to reconcile Uhuru, Ruto won’t succeed

Friday, September 10th, 2021 00:00 |
President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto in happier times. Photo/PD/FILE

Joseph Ndonga 

Some people, including religious leaders, have been piling pressure on President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto to put aside their political differences.

Let me explain why I doubt such calls would bear fruit. As a student of peace building, one of the key lessons I learnt is that meaningful reconciliation can only be realised when the players embrace the spirit of neutrality and non-partisanship and must have the background information of where the conflict started. 

Most players are not bound by this script. Some of them create the impression that the DP had been wronged more.

So, it means if the reconciliation talks are held, Uhuru will be expected to eat humble pie and apologise to his deputy.

That would amount to distortion of facts. We know the duo’s political differences were triggered by the 2018 Handshake between the President and ODM leader Raila Odinga. 

The DP had all along been harbouring ambitions to succeed his boss in 2022. His support for Uhuru was, therefore, conditional.

He had identified Raila as the only person who posed a real threat to his presidential bid. So, by the President opting to work with him, the DP had no option but cut ties with Uhuru. 

Uhuru’s assurance that the handshake had nothing to do with his succession did not help the matter. 

The President explained that in the aftermath of the 2017 presidential election, the country started to go in the wrong direction and he had to act fast to ensure no more blood of innocent Kenyans would be shed due to election-related violence.  

Uhuru had only one option. To initiate talks with Raila with a view to coming up with a peace deal since the country was more important than individuals. 

It should be noted that Uhuru had earlier struck a similar reconciliation pact with Ruto prior to the 2013 election.

In the 2007 election, Ruto had cast his lot with Raila while Uhuru supported President Kibaki. 

But Ruto and his allies would hear none of Uhuru’s explanations. To date, they have maintained their opposition to the Uhuru’s decision to burry the hatchet with Raila. 

For me, the Deputy President’s position is clear. He can only work with Uhuru if he cuts links with Raila and the rest of the opposition leaders. 

Let us assume that Uhuru agrees to heed this call. How will this reconcile the country? 

If Uhuru has made up his mind that Ruto is unfit to lead this country, any reconciliation efforts will not bear any fruits. 

And you cannot blame the President. You cannot force him to support a candidate or gag him from speaking out his mind on his succession because that would amount to violating his freedom of speech, expression and association. 

Kenya is a democratic country and so Kenyans will decide on who succeeds Uhuru at the ballot.

Those making calls for reconciliation should advise the DP to support his boss’s agenda of building a cohesive and united country. Kenya belongs to all Kenyans not two tribes. —The writer is a political analyst

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