Deputy President William Ruto delivered his clearest criticism of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) yet as the report was officially launched at the Bomas of Kenya on Monday, October 26.
Ruto spoke after Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga and introduced President Uhuru Kenyatta.
He attracted the ire of a large section of delegates who attempted to shout him down and continued heckling him after he concluded his speech.
Unlike a vast majority of the speakers before him, Ruto highlighted several proposals in the BBI report with which he was uncomfortable, declaring that he would have to be convinced to accept them.
Chants of ‘Respect the President’ rent the air as Ruto wrapped up his speech and invited the President. During his speech, Ruto had to convince the crowd to give him an opportunity to explain his thoughts, stating that he was apologetic if he was being slow.
Asserting that he spoke on behalf of millions of Kenyans who have bought into his ‘hustler’ movement, the DP also directly responded to perceived jibes from proponents of the report such as Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU) boss Francis Atwoli.
Among issues he questioned was the proposal giving political parties greater say in the hiring of Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) officials.
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“On appointment of IEBC commissioners. My brother Raila Odinga is good at football. So, let me ask: How fair a league will it be where the referee is appointed by some teams. Unless you persuade me that we will end up with a fair game. I have my reservations,” he posed.
He also referenced criticism of his youth empowerment program which has seen him donate numerous wheelbarows, boda bodas and other tools for income-generating activities.
“We have to ask ourselves why a 16th century innovation like a wheelbarow is needed by millions of Kenyans today in the 21st Century in Kenya,” he stated.
In his speech, the President thanked Ruto for his support in the process, revealing that they even discussed potential names for the BBI steering committee.
Uhuru further thanked ODM leader Raila Odinga for the March 2018 handshake that ended months of political turmoil, reiterating that succession politics and the 2022 General elections did not feature anywhere in their discussions.
Admitting that he had contributed to the deeply rooted politics of ethnicity in Kenya, Uhuru argued that radical changes were required for a shift in mindsets.
“The fact of the matter is we are a tribal society. We want to get away from it but this is what we are. We pretend to be national leaders then switch to vernacular,” he stated.
He, however, stated that he welcomed open discussion on the report as its purpose was to bring people together.
The President drew laughs when he jokingly criticized the Deputy President for beginning early campaigns for the 2022 election.
Watch part of Ruto’s speech below: