Today at the finish line was a day for Kenyans to weigh in look squarely at the two leaders fighting for the presidency of the country and see who has what it takes to be the president of Kenya. Voters are looking for calmness, a state of mental stability, a revenge-free outlook, and their vision for the country to make that final call of who between Raila Odinga and William Ruto is fit to be their president.
Raila came up with his usual commitment to work with everybody to build the country whether he wins or loses the election. He confirmed his commitment to the Handshake doctrine.
William Ruto replied to that very quickly. Ruto told the country that he is winning the election on August 9, 2022, and he will have nothing to do with handshakes. Of course, Ruto has been livid about the handshake between President Uhuru and Raila and now the rubber meets the road.
I suspect many Kenyans have been worried that after Raila and Azimio win this election next week Raila being the humble and respectful guy that he is will extend a handshake to Ruto.
“I want to assure Kenyans that I will continue with this handshake doctrine, the doctrine of unclenching the fist. For the sake of Kenya, I will shake the hand of my rivals and pay the political price if I have to,” he said.
“I will shake their hand if I win. And I will shake their hand if I don’t. And I will do it because I love Kenya more than I love Raila Amolo Odinga.”
He could do that because we know Raila with Martha and the Azimio team as a whole have said they don’t want to run a revenge government fighting its old enemies. Martha Karua has been very adamant on that in the last few days of the campaign.
She has maintained that they want to move the country forward and will be very protective of Ruto and his UDA team as they would be of every other Kenyan in terms of their rights as citizens of the republic. That is all good.
The best part of all these is that Azimio does not need a handshake with William Ruto to move the country forward without vendetta and revenge nonsense. UDA does not want a handshake and that is great news. Uhuru gave Ruto a handshake in 2013 when they won the presidency and they did it again in 2017.
What did Uhuru get from his handshake with Ruto? A war partner as from 2018 just because President Uhuru dared to invite Raila to join him in building the country instead of fighting for another five years which would not benefit Kenyans.
Raila had a handshake with Ruto in 2006 when they run the ODM party in a contest against Kibaki for the presidency. They almost won and the country ended up in 2007/8 nightmare of PEV. Finally, the two sides formed a unity government where Raila became the prime minister and appointed Ruto as the minister of agriculture.
Within months Ruto declared war against Raila his ODM partner using the Mau forest clean-up as an excuse for his explosion which included publicly crying at political rallies and allegedly wailing for Mau forest victims, never mind that the Mau forest was being saved to save the Kenyan water system and nobody had been harmed.
William Ruto wanted a window to create his own third force within the Kibaki/Raila alliance government of national unity. That was classic Ruto looking for “what is in this for me” mentality that he has.
So after the August 9, elections next week a handshake with Ruto after he loses the elections on Tuesday is going to be no different and Kenyans don’t need that nightmare anymore. If Raila makes any handshake deal with Ruto the man will start campaigning for the 2027 presidential elections.
Kenyans do not have time for that. There is a lot of work to be done to get the country roaring to its goals of food security, economic growth, political stability, peace, and development in every inch of the land. That is what Kenyans are voting for next week.
Kenyans need to heed the words from our sitting president who knows his deputy better than any of us.
“Restrain yourselves from electing a thief. I don’t want to hear you crying and regretting it. There are people who have funny stories but they are as sweet as honey and so convincing, but they are poison,” Uhuru said.
Adongo Ogony is a Human Rights Activist and a Writer who lives in Toronto, Canada