In a break from tradition that spoke volumes, Deputy President William Ruto was ‘denied’ the opportunity to address the nation during the Madaraka Day celebrations on Wednesday at Uhuru Gardens after he was excluded from the event’s programme.
Normally, as witnessed in the previous public events, the Deputy President is invited to make his address and then invites the president who then take overs and delivers the keynote speech.
But during Wednesday’s ceremony, immediately after an interlude of entertainment, the president was invited to preside over the awarding of state commendation medals.
Thereafter, President Kenyatta invited President Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone to make his remarks.
President Kenyatta also failed to acknowledge the presence of his deputy when he was introducing the VIP guests in attendance.
“Your Excellency Julius Maada Bio, the President of Sierra Leone, the First Lady of the Republic of Sierra Leone Fatima Maada, African Development Bank Group President Dr Akinwumi Adesina, honourable Speakers, your Ladyship Chief Justice Martha Koome, our entire spectrum, members of the diplomatic, fellow Kenyans,” President said as he commenced his speech.
In his speech, the president also made it clear that Dr Ruto’s presidential bid doesn’t have his blessings by endorsing Narc Kenya party leader Martha Karua as his preferred choice for Kenya’s next Deputy President.
President Kenyatta gave his endorsement by reiterating his commitment to expanded inclusion of women in leadership.
“I am proud to be part of this push and Kenyans have the opportunity to elect the first female Deputy President. If it is the wish of Kenyans, come August 9 2022 we will have the first female Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya,” President Kenyatta said amid applause from the crowd.
Ms Karua is ODM leader Raila Odinga’s running mate in the August 9 General Election under the Azimio la Umoja – One Kenya Coalition.
Dr Ruto, who is perceived as Mr Odinga’s main rival in the race, is running on a Kenya Kwanza Alliance ticket with Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua as his running mate.
The deep political differences between the president and his deputy had been witnessed earlier in the morning when the DP skipped a meeting in State House, where the President Kenyatta hosted his Cabinet.
The meeting took place just before the Head of State and the First Lady departed for Uhuru Gardens to lead Kenyans in the celebrations in what should be his last Madaraka Day as the country’s Commander in Chief.