Why William Ruto is courting Museveni and Kikwete
Why William Ruto is courting Museveni and Kikwete
Eldoret North MP William Ruto wants to portray himself as credible presidential material to Presidents Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania.
Ruto led a strange mix of ministers and MPs to see the Ugandan leader, who in turn spared no State expense to host them, even using his chopper to fly them to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania from his Rwakitura farm in Mbarara where he keeps over 400 long-horned Ankole cattle.
Neither Museveni nor Kikwete committed their support to his cause, but advised the group to focus on reconciling the country.
An MP in the group said Ruto has asked Museveni to arrange for him to meet Kikwete and the latter agreed. The suspended Higher Education minister left the country with Ministers Ali Chirau Mwakwere and Samuel Poghisio on Thursday morning for Uganda, where they met President Museveni. They then moved to Tanzania the following day for a meeting with President Kikwete at State House, Dar es Salaam arranged by Museveni.
President Jakaya Kikwete (left) receives leader of Kenyan delegation, William Ruto, at State House, Dar es Salaam. The MPs had earlier met President Museveni of Uganda at his farm. Photo: Courtesy
Ruto’s team included former Speaker Francis ole Kaparo and MPs Eugene Wamalwa (Saboti), Aden Dualle (Dujis), Kazungu Kambi (Kaloleni) Mithika Linturi (Igembe South) and a former Rift Valley power broker in the Moi era, Mark Too. Museveni’s courting of Kenyan politicians has gotten tongues wagging lately, with speculation that he is trying to see where the wind blows so as to decide whom to back in next year’s race to succeed President Kibaki.
Kikwete was part of the mediating team that brought President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to the negotiating table in 2008, after post-election violence rocked the country and was there mainly to discuss regional politics.
The rivalry between Raila and Ruto has picked up lately with the latter appearing on a popular comedy show on television just a week after it had hosted the PM. It also comes as Raila moves to try and regain his following in the Rift Valley.
Insiders say Museveni is uncertain with the frontrunner status of the PM in the race to succeed Kibaki, as evidenced by successive opinion polls, despite recently hosting the PM as a State guest, and that Ruto is keen to exploit Museveni’s indecision.
But other than Raila, Ruto also faces a legal hurdle in the form of the International Criminal Court (ICC) that hangs over his presidential plans. The ICC has accused him and five others of serious crimes against humanity, and a hearing to decide whether or not to confirm the charges is due on September 1.
An MP who travelled with the team said apart from attempting to portray himself as versed in regional politics, Ruto used the trip to try and convince the two presidents that he is a serious presidential contender with broad political support, hence his handpicked team.
Those who attended the two meetings have remained tight-lipped since returning to the country, but it has emerged among the issues discussed included the need for leaders in the region who can help citizens exploit available opportunities.
An MP who attended both meetings said Museveni and Kikwete listened to proposals from the group on how to strengthen the East African Community (EAC).
“They were both concerned about what is going to happen in 2012, and that is why they were very keen to know how political alliances are shaping up in the country,” said the MP.
At the meeting with Museveni at the latter’s Rwakitura farm, sources said Ruto gave details to the Ugandan leader on the status of his political relationship with Uhuru Kenyatta, Eugene Wamalwa and Kalonzo Musyoka.
It also emerged that Chirau Mwakere has since gained prominence in the Ruto camp after Tourism Minister Najib Balala was said to have reconciled with the PM.
On Sunday, Kazungu Kambi said they indeed met Museveni at his Rwakitura farm for three hours where they took lunch together before holding a closed-door meeting.
Although Kambi was tight-lipped about what transpired because of a general agreement by the attendants that what was discussed be kept private, The Standard learnt that the Ruto team told Museveni they were trying to knit together on a cohesive political group to fight Raila for the presidency next year.
Ruto and Eugene were in President Kibaki’s team that attended Museveni’s swearing in ceremony after his controversial re-election with a disputed 68 per cent majority.
Before leaving for Uganda, the MPs were kept waiting at Wilson Airport for two hours because the two Ministers had to make a presentation at the performance contract meeting.
Very early in the morning, Poghisio and Mwakere had gone through the formalities of seeking permission from the President to be out of the country.
At Entebbe, the group was received by the President’s Chief of Protocol at Entebbe Airport and whisked to a waiting presidential helicopter that dropped them at President Museveni’s Rwakitura farm.
“We found him waiting for us and then joined him in a grass thatched brick house designed like an African traditional hut for lunch, and then proceeded with the meeting from 3pm to 6pm, that is all I can tell you,” said Kambi.
The MP who spoke to The Standard said Museveni delved into the complexities of Kenyan politics with the group, but did not make any personal commitment only promising to work with them in future and wished them well.
He asked the group to be self-reliant in pushing for their political goals and booked for them an appointment with President Kikwete, before they left Mbarara for an overnight stay in Kampala’s Sheraton Hotel, at the courtesy of President Museveni.
The Kenyan delegation then left very early the following day in a Presidential motorcade to Entebbe Airport where they boarded the 14-seater -caravan they had chartered at Wilson Airport in Nairobi and left for Tanzania.
After a four-hour flight, they landed at Nyerere International Airport where President Kikwete’s handlers took them to the VIP Lounge for tea.
They were then whisked by a presidential motorcade to State House, where they found Kikwete waiting.
“He came to the reception and said Karibuni, Karibuni and proceeded to greet each member of the delegations as Ruto introduced those he had never met,” said an MP who appeared to be so elated about the trip.
According to the source, they then proceeded for a two-hour closed-door meeting with President Kikwete where the discussion centered on what they had with Museveni.
“Kikwete said Tanzania has a stake in what happens in Kenya because of the interests of the people of both of countries,” said an MP who attended a meeting with President Kibaki in Nyanza
They left for the airport at around 5.30pm and flew to Moi International Airport where the MPs boarded a Kenya Airways flight at 8pm for Nairobi, because the chartered Caravan 5YFLX did not have a license to fly in Kenyan airspace at night.
When Ruto was in Uganda and Tanzania, Prime Minister Raila Odinga visited a village in his North Rift back yard to re-establish his support in the region.
On Sunday, Ruto also declined to discuss the meetings with Museveni and Kikwete, but said Raila was free to visit any part of the country. He also dismissed claims that Linturi had decamped to Raila’s camp.
“We agreed with Linturi that he was to attend that function before Tinga [Raila] went to Meru, so it is no big deal,” said Ruto.
The MP revealed that like-minded MPs will move together to UDM, which recently captured civic seats in Igoji and Kirimara because of Linturi’s influence in the area.
He said his line-up in Meru includes Prof Kindiki Kithure, Dr Kanyithia Mutunga who is the Chief Executive Officer of Kenfap, M’Kareithi Peter of Tigania North and Faith Kawira (Imenti North) among others.
The suspended Agriculture Minister claimed his team has already established a network that will be a force to reckon with in the elections next year.
“The bond between me and Eugene Wamalwa is growing while Poghisio and Assistant Minister Athman Kamama are also with us, so we are a formidable team,” said Ruto.
On Sunday Ruto said there is need for national sensitization and awareness campaign programme on East African Community integration process.
Ruto said Kenyans would benefit more from the East African Common Market Protocol and they should be educated on how to explore such trading opportunities.
“The East African Common Market Protocol is real and Kenyans need to take up the opportunities created to make more money,” said Ruto
Source- http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/InsidePage.php?id=2000037469&cid=4&ttl=Why Ruto is courting Museveni and Kikwete
Flight to Tanzania