Ruto: The lonely wolf crying in US, UK soil
Ruto: The lonely wolf crying in US, UK soil
By John Kamau, editor, thingira.org (email:firstname.lastname@example.org)
For the first time in recorded history, a sitting government official cried in-front of a foreign audience that the government he serves as the second in command was planning to rig elections.
The man at the centre of it all is Kenya’s Deputy President, William Samoei Ruto (pictured with US Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Molly Phee at the State Department, Washington DC).
The Kenya’s deputy president is in the same rank as US Vice President, Kamala Harris, the 49th holder of the office who deputises President Joe Biden.
Curiously, Harris did not meet nor acknowledge the presence of her equal from Kenya for the duration Ruto was in the United States.
Ruto, the man who deputises Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta had a reason to cry foul, going by the political developments and realignments in his country that have left him a lonely wolf.
Outsmarted and outfoxed by a combination of sitting President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga, Ruto finds himself wearing unfamiliar shoes that were worn by Raila in the 2013 General Election.
At the time, Raila, then a sitting Kenya’s prime minister who was co-chairing power with incumbent President Mwai Kibaki, found himself fighting a well oiled army of the Uhuru-Ruto duo that had the blessings of the majority of the ruling class.
And Raila was not a lonely wolf as he had the then sitting Vice President, Kalonzo Musyoka on his side as the running mate.
But come the 2013 presidential election, the prime minster and vice president we defeated by two civilians – Uhuru and Ruto – who had been forced to resign as Treasury Cabinet Minister and Higher Education Cabinet Minister respectively after the then International Criminal Court prosecutor, Moreno Ocampo named them among six suspected to have funded, organised and executed the 2007/08 post-election violence.
But three years later, Uhuru, the sitting president was cleared of the charges with no chances of his case being ever resurrected after the court found the prosecution witnesses were not credible.
Almost a year later, Ruto’s case at the same court collapsed with the judges warning that witness interference, bribery and even killing caused its death.
The judges set him free together with his co-accused, radio journalist Joshua Sang with a rider that the prosecution was free to charge him afresh should new evidence emerge.
And now Ruto finds himself staring at possible prosecution at The Hague-based court going by the revelations being made by the prosecution in the trial of lawyer Paul Gicheru.
For the up-teeth time, prosecution witnesses have been firm that the Deputy President was the ‘Big Man’ who was behind the bribing and killing of ICC witnesses.
The latest was the fourth witness who told the international court that Gicheru explained to him that the big man in Kiswahili ‘mkubwa’ wanted no stone left unturned in the case.
“Gicheru told me that mkubwa wants no stone left unturned in this issue and it was the reason he wanted me to assist in finding other witnesses,” witness P-0274 told the court.
“And who did you understand mkubwa was,?” asked the prosecution.
“I understood mkubwa as William Ruto because the ICC case was against him,” he told the court.
Gicheru is facing eight counts relating to corruptly influencing witnesses regarding cases from Kenya.
According to the witness, he was introduced to Gicheru by a person referred to as person 14, who was also one of the ICC witnesses in the trial of Ruto.
According to the witness, person 14, was his close friend and they used to meet several times.
The witness testified that a few days after the meeting, Gicheru contacted him by the same phone number he had given him and gave him an offer of Sh500,000.
And Ruto is not sitting pretty given that his allies and aides – Isaac Maiyo, Farouk Kibet and Silas Simatwo – have been mentioned as the link between him and the prosecution witnesses.
Faced with a possibility of being summoned, with threats of long jail sentences, the trio of Maiyo, Kibet and Simatwo might decide to crucify their boss to safe their necks.
It is to be recalled that the Pre-Trial Chamber found that besides Gicheru, there was Simatwo, from Amaco Insurance, Maiyo, Franklin Bett, slain Yabesh Yebei and fugitive journalist Walter Barasa as the ones who acted together to undermine the prosecution's case against Ruto and Sang.
Away from the developments at the ICC, Ruto back home finds himself starved of the much needed campaign resources after key allies suspected of involvement in graft were smoked out of their holes and paraded in court to answer graft charges.
The big names that were suspected to be Ruto’s cash cow included former Treasury Cabinet Secretary, Henry Rotich, who was charged afresh with conspiracy to defraud Sh63 billion in the Arror and Kimwarer dams.
Ruto’s preferred running mate, Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua is in court battling Sh7.3 billion fraud case and his accounts have been frozen for holding proceeds of crime.
Ruto’s other cash cow, businesswoman Mary Wambui Mungai is battling tax evasion case of Sh6.7 billion and her accounts have also been frozen.
And the list of his allies ducking the long arm of the law in their pursuit is over 30.
They include Samburu Governor Moses Lenolkulal, former Nairobi county boss Mike Sonko and impeached Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu.
The three are staring at the possibility of going to jail before the August 9 General Election.
Ruto himself is also fighting a court case to clear his name over allegations that he irregularly acquired a land belonging to Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) near Wilson Airport to construct the Weston Hotel.
According to KCAA, Weston Hotel colluded with two firms to grab its land in Nairobi’s Lang’ata, but the DP has maintained that he followed due process and legally bought the land from Priority Ltd and Monene Investment Ltd.
For Waititu, he is on trial for receiving Sh51 million through kickbacks wired to his companies Saika Two Estate Developers Ltd and Benvenue Delta Hotel when he awarded the multi-million shilling tender for road construction.
Lenolkulal was charged with conspiracy to commit an economic crime by receiving Sh84,695,996 from the county government through his company Oryx Services Station.
Sonko on the other hand faces 19 charges in two separate files in which the prosecution claimed he conspired with rogue businessmen and senior county government officials to embezzle over Sh380 million from the county coffers.
Also, Kandara MP Alice Wahome, another staunch supporter of Ruto, is fighting the Director of Public Prosecution to stop her prosecution over alleged misappropriation of Sh284 million from the late Mbiyu Koinange’s estate.
Ruto’s allies convicted includes Sirisia MP John Waluke who was jailed for a cumulative 62 years and fined close to Sh1 billion for defrauding the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB).
The MP is out after lodging an appeal.
Other Ruto allies who have ran afoul with investigative agencies include MPs Aisha Jumwa (Malindi), David Gikaria (Nakuru Town East), governor Stephen Sang (Nandi) and Senator Samson Cherargei (Nandi).
Jumwa, who was arrested alongside four others over Ganda Ward by-election chaos that left one person dead, was freed on a Sh500,000 cash bail or Sh1 million bond. The case is still on.
Sang was charged with malicious damage to property, incitement to violence and abuse of office but denied all three charges and was released on Sh1 million bond or Sh500, 000 cash bail. The case is still pending at the Kisumu Courts.
Cherargei is facing charges of ethnic contempt, violating the National Cohesion and Integration Act, following a speech he made in August in Nandi last year. He deposited Sh300,000 bail after being charged with ethnic contempt and incitement to violence.
Gikaria was charged with forging land documents and grabbing parcels of land within Nakuru County between August 28 and December 18, 2007.
And at the political level, Ruto finds himself losing key allies, now defecting in droves to Raila’s Azimio la Umoja.
The latest to defect was UDA National Treasurer Omingo Magara, who even declared the outfit as one-man-show.
Magara’s defection came shortly after Kisii Deputy Governor Joash Maangi run away from the outfit and signalled he was on his way to ODM.
Kitutu Chache South MP Richard Onyonka and his nemesis and former ODM party branch chair Samuel Omwando also decamped from Ruto’s UDA and were received by Raila.
While in US, the man Ruto had unveiled for Narok UDA gubernatorial ticket, Patrick Ntutu ditched UDA alongside
Mara MCA Tipapa Kirrokor, who is eying Narok West parliamentary seat.
From Mombasa to Kisumu, Wajir to Kakamega, UDA leaders are decamping in droves to Azimio, leaving Ruto a wounded man.
It therefore did not come as a surprise when the Deputy President ‘cried wolf’ in-front of the US junior leaders and 31 Kenyans who accompanied him.
In his address, Ruto told members of the international community that democracy was on trial in Kenya and that voters may not have a chance to freely make their choices at the ballot in the coming General Election.
The DP used his visit to the United States, to warn of a strong possibility that Kenyans’ right to exercise their freedom of choice without threats and intimidation might be at stake in the August 9 polls.
Speaking at Karson Institute for Race, Peace and Social Justice at Loyola University in Baltimore, Ruto said the coming polls were a litmus test to the country’s democracy adding he was ready to defend all Kenyans’ right to vote without intimidation.