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UhuRuto rift widens as DP misses from corona sessions
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|UhuRuto rift widens as DP misses from corona sessions by Kenyans247(1): Tue 17, March, 2020 04:42pm|
Deputy President William Ruto has been conspicuously absent from key public events, including critical meetings to address the coronavirus pandemic.
The DP’s absence has sparked speculation of the worsening ties with President Uhuru Kenyatta, coming just days after he indirectly accused Uhuru of using the "system" to scuttle his presidential bid.
Ruto was not at the Harambee House press conference on Sunday where Uhuru, flanked by top government officials, announced two more infections and unveiled a raft of tough measures to contain the virus.
By the President’s side were CSs Mutahi Kagwe (Health), Fred Matiang’i (Interior), Joe Mucheru (ICT), Monica Juma (Foreign Affairs), James Macharia (Transport) and Raychelle Omamo (Foreign Affairs).
But this was not the first Covid-19 meeting the DP gave a wide berth despite being in the country.
The DP attended a church service in Lang'ata on Sunday.
Ruto also missed the emergency National Security Council meeting called at State House on March 13 to discuss the situation.
Coronavirus, a highly infectious disease, is the biggest epidemic the country has faced in recent times.
Present during that NSC meeting on Friday were Matiang’i, Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai, Chief of Defence Forces Samson Mwathethe, NIS boss Philip Kameru and Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua.
On Thursday last week, Ruto was also absent when the emergency response committee first handed its initial report to the President on its preparedness to counter the pandemic.
As a sign of their waning camaraderie, the DP was also not at the Beyond Zero marathon – which he previously attended with his wife Rachel.
He was also absent when Rift Valley governors led by Elgeyo Marakwet’s Alex Tolgos briefed President Kenyatta on preparations for the Nakuru BBI rally.
Yesterday, Ruto’s office downplayed the claims saying the DP is involved, citing his public remarks asking the public to be cautious.
“As you can see he is not missing in action as you say," Ruto’s communication secretary David Mugonyi told the Star
The DP’s allies further dismissed claims of a split in Jubilee, saying the question would be whether the Deputy President was invited to the press briefing.
Majority Whip Ben Washiali (Mumias East) and Caleb Kositany (Soy) said the public could be reading too much in the events.
They said even the President was not to be at the Sunday presser as it was planned by the emergency response committee.
Kositany said, “There was a meeting and the DP was in church. I don’t know why he did not attend the press briefing.
“Maybe he was not invited. I am sure if he was invited, he would have attended.”
Ruto’s other allies said they wouldn’t want to play into the hands of their “detractors who want to sow division in Jubilee.”
They believe that looking at the mood of the country, there are people who want to create a non-existent political contest between Uhuru and Ruto.
“Since it is a Jubilee President who is leading, we prefer stepping back for unity to prevail,” a lawmaker who sought anonymity said.
“Even if the DP stepped back, he did so for the sake of the party and for the sake of the President.”
Ordinarily, Kenyans expect the DP to be at the forefront in efforts to tackle the disease.
Ruto took the lead when claims arose that people were dying from drought effects in Turkana last year.
However, in the coronavirus outbreak, the DP has on two separate occasions chosen to address gatherings on the matter, albeit far from the centre of power.
The incidents followed days after Ruto claimed threats to his life by a cabal out to stop him from succeeding President Kenyatta.
He said at the burial of Kipyegon Kenei – a cop attached to his office who was found murdered - that there would be more efforts to isolate him.
It’s not clear if the DP is getting timely briefings on coronavirus.
In his speech on Sunday, he asked schools to put prevention measures in place but hours later, the President ordered all learning institutions closed.
Ruto also praised churches over measures they had taken to control the disease’s spread, urging them to follow Health Ministry recommendations.
“I urge all Kenyans to play their role in ensuring the damage from corona is minimised by adhering to the regulations given by the Ministry of Health,” the DP said.
“Every citizen must play their part in helping to manage this tragedy and serious problem we have as a nation,” he said in Kapsabet on Friday.
Edited by Henry Makori
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