Erstwhile allies turned foes- Deputy President William Ruto and opposition leader Raila Odinga have launched yet another all-out war against each other.
In the recent times, the two leaders have been throwing punches at each other’s jugulars and this time round, the war is triggered by unpaid debts.
The 2022 presidential elections , the 2017 and the 2007 past elections also featured and whether Raila owes Ruto a political debt for his support in the 2007 poll.
On Sunday, Mr Odinga continued the war of words, laughing off Mr Ruto’s suggestion that the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader was a stubborn politician who never concedes defeat.
“He claims that we were undemocratic because we did not accept defeat. How do you expect us to concede defeat in a contest we did not participate in?” Mr Odinga asked at Friends Church Quakers Maringo, Nairobi.
The ODM leader was making reference to the October 26 repeat presidential election — ordered by the Supreme Court after their historic decision to annul the August 8 poll — that he boycotted citing lack of electoral reforms.
The renewed war of words started on Friday during the burial of former minister Henry Obwocha, a function attended by Raila when Ruto, without mentioning names, asked leaders to be democratic enough “and accept defeat when you lose”.
But it is the move by Mr Ruto to revive debate about the 2007 polls that has angered many in ODM, as well as Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi.
Ruto, speaking in Kakamega during the homecoming of Lurambi MP Titus Khamala on Saturday, said that Mr Odinga and Mr Mudavadi had abandoned him after the disputed poll in which he was charged at the International Criminal Court for the post-election violence that marred the country.
He told the crowd that the trio had made a deal to have him as prime minister, with Mr Odinga as president, and Mr Mudavadi his deputy.
“When the election was disputed, a deal was made, and Mr Odinga took what was mine — the prime minister’s post, with Mr Mudavadi as the deputy prime minister. They left me out,” Mr Ruto, who was named agriculture minister in the coalition government, said.
He added: “After the election, I was taken to The Hague, and my friends here, Raila and Mudavadi never even bothered to come visit me there.”
For all his troubles, Mr Ruto concluded that Mr Odinga and Mr Mudavadi owe him their support in 2022.
On Sunday, ODM said there was no such deal.
“The position of PM did not exist before the 2007 election. It was forged out of the national accord after the post-election violence,” ODM secretary-general Edwin Sifuna stated.
“There is no way it could have been party of any pre-election arrangement. The politics of debt are retrogressive. Let Ruto convince Kenyans that he is fit for the office of President without blackmailing leaders with non-existent debts.”
And yesterday, Makadara MP George Aladwa reignited debate about whether or not Mr Odinga will run for president in 2022.
“Some people are saying that Raila should not run in 2022, and I want to ask: Is there any law that bars him? No! So why should he not run? We will support him fully,” Mr Aladwa said at the service attended by Mr Odinga.
ANC secretary-general Barrack Muluka, on the other hand, termed Mr Ruto’s claims as “political levity”.
“I think the DP was only making a little joke. If he wasn’t, then Kenyans have reason to be afraid — very afraid.
“In the end, these things are not about individuals and their selfish ambitions. This thing about “me, me and more me” is nauseating,” Muluka added.
“Where does it leave the remaining 45 million (Kenyans)? We want vision and not throwbacks to retrogressive individual focus on “promises” and “debts” that never were,” the ANC secretary-general added.
He said there is only one debt “and that’s the debt that the political class owes Kenyans. The debt of responsible leadership.”
But Mr Mudavadi, speaking at the same function, said there was no power sharing agreement in ODM in 2007 to warrant Mr Ruto’s calls for support.
“Besides, President Kenyatta and Mr Ruto short-changed me in 2013 when they lied to me in my house that they would back my candidature,” he said.
He challenged Mr Ruto to prepare for a bruising battle to succeed Mr Kenyatta in 2022.