Deputy President William Ruto will attend tomorrow’s 58th Madaraka Day celebrations in Kisumu but will not accompany President Kenyatta and his host Raila Odinga on project launches.
This emerged yesterday as Dr Ruto’s allies claimed he had been side-lined in the preparations for the State function despite being the second in command.
Some of the DP’s allies feel President Uhuru Kenyatta and Mr Odinga have taken centre stage in the plan while the DP continues to be ignored.
A statement by State House spokesperson Kanze Dena-Mararo on Saturday did not mention the DP even as she confirmed that Mr Kenyatta would be accompanied by Mr Odinga and other local leaders on his arrival in Kisumu.
“The President will be joined on the tour by several national and regional leaders among them former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Kisumu Governor Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o among others,” read the statement in part.
Ms Dena also stated that Burundi President Evariste Ndayishimiye would be the chief guest at tomorrow’s celebration.
Yesterday, director of communication at the DP’s office Emmanuel Talam confirmed that the DP would only attend tomorrow’s event but would not accompany Mr Kenyatta in a tour of various government projects in the region.
“He has been invited for the Madaraka Day celebrations and he will definitely go. For the other projects, he has not been invited and so he will only go for Madaraka Day celebrations. Those are different functions,” said Mr Talam.
The DP’s allies, speaking to the Nation, claimed the celebrations in Kisumu had been hijacked by the ‘Handshake’ partners.
“It’s Madaraka (day) for the two Handshake partners and their cronies. A very sad situation, but things will change soon, they will never stop the power of God and the people,” Keiyo South MP Daniel Rono told Nation.
His South Mugirango counterpart Sylvanus Osoro said the DP’s was a constitutional office that should be respected.
“Such events need no invitation. On accompanying the President for projects, he will only do what the president assigns him to do. I am aware he hasn’t been assigned ‘accompanying’ duties,” Mr Osoro said.
On Friday, Mr Odinga led a delegation of Nyanza leaders at a meeting with President Kenyatta at State House Nairobi where they discussed development issues in Nyanza region ahead of tomorrow’s event.
Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, a DP’s ally, said the president and his deputy should meet leaders from every region if he means well for the country.
“For our region, we want to discuss government projects and the economy, especially farmers’ issues. Will he (President) really meet us or visit Rift Valley anytime soon?” posed Mr Murkomen.
The former Senate minority leader, who was removed from the position for his association with the DP, lamented that it was unfortunate to tie cancellation and completion of projects to personal relations with the President.
“What will happen to the people of Rift Valley who despite voting for Uhuru have been shunned and despised?” posed Mr Murkomen.
The relationship between the Head of State and his deputy has remained frosty since March 9, 2018 when President Kenyatta inked his ‘Handshake’ pact with Mr Odinga.
The three leaders will be attending Madaraka day fete in Kisumu amid rising political temperatures over the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) and the 2022 succession politics.
Madaraka Day celebrations
The President and Mr Odinga are working together with other national leaders in the One Kenya Alliance– including Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka, his Amani National Congress (ANC) counterpart Musalia Mudavadi, Moses Wetang’ula of Ford Kenya and Kanu’s Gideon Moi– a relationship seen as aimed at blocking Dr Ruto’s State House bid.
Yesterday, DP Ruto’s allies in Kisumu said they were not worried about being sidelined and would accord the DP warm reception for the Madaraka day celebrations.
“This is a State function and nobody can purport to ignore a serving Deputy President. We will be there with them and Kenyans will know who is with the people,” Mr George Ayugi, a DP’s ally, told Nation.
Mr Ayugi who hosted the DP’s brother David Ruto in Kisumu in February said they will organise another visit of the region for the DP after the Madaraka day fete.
“We will plan our own meeting where the DP will engage with the public. Let them proceed with theirs,” said Mr Ayugi.
A government source told Nation yesterday that President Kenyatta is likely to cancel a visit of projects in Homa Bay and Migori and reschedule his plan to August “due to time constraints.”
“At the Madaraka Day celebrations, the DP will invite Raila to make his speech before addressing the gathering and thereafter invite the president to speak,” added the source.