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News Makers: William Samoei Ruto

He emerged on Kenya’s political scene around 1992 as a youth leader in the then ruling Kenya African National Unity (KANU).

William Samoei Ruto is Kenya’s Deputy President who has served in the position since 2013. Ruto also served as Acting President of Kenya (for two days from October 6 to 8, 2014) when President Uhuru Kenyatta was at the Hague to answer for crimes relating to the 2007 Post Election Violence.

He emerged on Kenya’s political scene around 1992 as a youth leader in the then ruling Kenya African National Unity (KANU) under late former president Daniel arap Moi.

William Ruto (Right) with friends during his formative years in the 1990s.

Ruto, who was a member of the Christian Union at the University of Nairobi, met President Moi through church activities.

Moi was putting together a youth lobby group to drum up support in the 1992 election. It would later be called Youth for Kanu 1992 (YK’92).

Ruto served as treasurer of  the YK’92 group, and it is believed that this is where he learned the ropes of Kenyan politics. He is also believed to have accumulated some wealth in this period.

In YK’92, young Ruto had tasted the pearls and perks of leadership and developed political appetite. In 1997, he contested and won a parliamentary seat in Eldoret North Constituency beating the incumbent Reuben Chesire who was and Moi’s preferred candidate.

He quickly grabbed Moi’s attention because of his zeal and charisma, who later appointed him as Assistant Minister in the Office of the President in 1998.

When Moi announced his retirement in 2002, Ruto declared strong support for his preferred successor Uhuru Kenyatta. Although KANU lost terribly to President Mwai Kibaki, Ruto he retained his parliamentary seat.

He became KANU Secretary General in 2005 with Uhuru Kenyatta getting elected as Chairman.

In January 2006, Ruto declared publicly that he would vie for the presidency in the next general election, scheduled for December 2007.

He later fell out with the KANU leadership and joined the new ODM party which was galvanizing synergies to oust President Kibaki.

In the ODM party vote of  September 1, 2007, Ruto placed third with 368 votes, behind the winner, Raila Odinga (with 2,656 votes) and Musalia Mudavadi (with 391).

He expressed his support for Odinga after the vote as KANU under Uhuru Kenyatta moved to support Kibaki.

The presidential election of December 2007 ended in an impasse. Kenya’s electoral commission declared Kibaki the winner, but Odinga and ODM claimed the victory.

Mwai Kibaki was hurriedly sworn in as the president December 2007 presidential election. However, the warring parties later formed a Government of National Unity (grand coalition cabinet), where he served as the ministry of Agriculture.

In December 2010, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court announced that he was seeking summonses of six people, including Ruto over their involvement in the 2007–8 electoral violence.

Willian Ruto during a court hearing at the International Criminal Court in the Hague.

The ICC’s Pre-Trial Chamber subsequently issued a summons for Ruto at the prosecutor’s request. Ruto is accused of planning and organizing crimes against supporters of President Kibaki’s Party of National Unity.

Ruto struck a deal with Kenyatta to form the Jubilee alliance for the 2013 presidential election which they both won.

On 4 March 2013, he became the first Deputy President of Kenya, when he and Uhuru Kenyatta were declared winners of the 2013 Kenyan general election. The duo ran on a Jubilee Alliance ticket. The Jubilee Alliance was a coalition of his United Republican Party (URP) and Kenyatta’s The National Alliance.

The Alliance was registered as a Jubilee Party  on September 8, 2016 ahead of the 2017 general elections which Ruto as the running mate for President Uhuru Kenyatta won in October.