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Ruto, Raila teams score low blows with camps firing personal salvos – The East African

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Ruto, Raila teams score low blows with camps firing personal salvos - The East African 4

Azimio la Umoja movement supporters at a rally in Jacaranda grounds, Nairobi in March, led by former Prime Minister Raila Odinga. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NMG

The presidential campaign teams of Deputy President William Ruto and former prime minister Raila Odinga have stepped up personalised attacks on each other in recent days, heightening an already charged race, only four months to the August election day.
DP Ruto loyalists, still smarting from President Uhuru Kenyatta’s endorsement of opposition leader Raila Odinga, are now openly targeting the president’s family and its vast wealth, in a campaign to stoke public resentment in the middle of increasing high cost of living and a fuel crisis.
Not spared is Mama Ngina Kenyatta, the 88-year-old mother of President Kenyatta who has been in the Ruto camp’s crosshairs after footage surfaced on social media publicly defending the president, for deciding to overlook DP Ruto.
A January report by Oxfam International ranked President Kenyatta as the fourth wealthiest Kenyan with a fortune of $530 million, part of it associated with the wider family of Kenya’s founding father Jomo Kenyatta.
The Kenyatta family’s business empire spans banking, milk processing, transport, media and hospitality sectors.
The attacks on the Kenyatta family came after a week-long fuel shortage across the country, with petrol stations running out of fuel, and blamed on oil marketers hoarding the commodity to protest non-payment of billions of shillings in subsidy arrears.
The government has since settled part of the oil dealers’ debt and President Kenyatta on Monday signed a mini-budget, allocating more funds to the subsidy. On Thursday, the Energy minister assured Kenyans of normal fuel supplies after receiving a shipment of 100 million litres of oil at Mombasa port.
But even as the fuel “crisis” was resolved a fake letter was circulating on social media alleging links of the Kenyatta family with ownership of a major oil marketing companies and legislators allied to Dr Ruto calling for the president’s resignation.
And DP Ruto kept up the pressure, when at a press conference, he accused unnamed government officials of protecting industry cartels and aiding a few oil companies to manipulate prices.
DP Ruto is running a campaign on a populist platform, portraying himself as a self-made son of a peasant, in touch with common man problems and therefore the country’s hope, against the so-called dynastic powers of President Kenyatta and Odinga, whose fathers were Kenya’s first president and vice-president respectively.
Ruto’s falling out with President Kenyatta goes back to 2018, just a year into their government’s second term and until recently, had avoided personalised attacks on the president, choosing to aim salvos at Raila instead. As the election draws nearer, the campaigns are getting dirty, personal and taking on a dangerous trajectory. But this latest round of political slugfest, the DP hasn’t come out unscathed either.
Odinga and his allies have in recent days trained their guns on Dr Ruto over the stoning of Raila’s helicopter in Uasin Gishu County on April 1. The DP publicly apologised for the incident in his political stronghold and a number of politicians affiliated to his United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party have been questioned by security officers over it.
But subsequent statements by the Odinga campaign have sought to drag Dr Ruto into the firing line, alleging a wider plot to orchestrate violence in a region with a history of politically instigated violence.
President Museveni did not give details of the talks but hinted that the food crisis and Russian sanctions were part of the agenda.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi says Somalia President Mohamud opposes unilateral decisions on the use of the Nile waters.

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