William Ruto responded to president Uhuru Kenyatta’s comments that time was ripe for Kenya to hold a referendum geared towards changing the constitution. The deputy president said that political leaders should be careful not to use the referendum to divide Kenyans. Mr. Ruto said if leaders believed that the handshake was meant to unite Kenyans, then such politicians should not talk referendum matters in a way that divides Kenyans.
This was in reference to Uhuru Kenyatta’s statements early in the day where the head of state said that the 2010 constitution was meant to reconcile our past and that the moment to improve on the constitution was now.
Mr. Kenyatta was speaking during his address to the nation whereby he addressed the status of coronavirus infections in the country and reviewed measures meant to stomp-up the spread of the deadly viral disease.
Some of the measures the presidents relaxed includes allowing the sale of used clothing (mitumba), allowing the sale of alcohol in restaurants and bars as well as extending the opening hours of bars and restaurants by one hour. Uhuru Kenyatta banned the sale of alcohol in the country on July 27, 2020.
President Kenyatta however extended the curfew for another 30 days. The president has been under pressure from the business sector to allow the sale of alcohol and relax some of the restrictions imposed in the country as they were detrimental to the economic progress of the country.
The deputy president has always been known to be against the change of the constitution as doing so will let back in Uhuru Kenyatta who has exhausted the maximum two terms allowed by the current constitution. This is because the referendum and the Building Bridges Initiative have an aim of reintroducing the powerful office of the prime minister and a ceremonial president.
William Ruto has a better chance of being the next president under the current constitution. This is because if things do not change, he only needs to battle ODM Party leader Mr. Raila Odinga. But when the constitution is changed, it complicates things and threatens Mr. Ruto’s political career as it is uncertain what role he will play with Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Odinga occupying the top two seats under the new constitution.
Although he has not expressly stated so, Uhuru Kenyatta is widely seen to be eyeing the role of the prime minister and hence remain Kenya’s head of state past 2022. Below is a video of William Ruto’s statement about the referendum: