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President Uhuru Kenyatta has a word with his deputy Dr William Ruto during the 57th Madaraka Day Celebrations on June 01, 2020 at State House Gardens, Nairobi. File | PSCU

What you need to know:

  • President Kenyatta owes Kenyans a candid explanation as to why he’s dumped Mr Ruto. 
  • On the other hand, Mr Ruto needs to speak publicly on why he thinks he’s been dumped.

It seems like aeons ago. In those days – long, long ago – Jubilee’s Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto were inseparable. Siamese twins. White starched shirts, matching red “power” ties. Sleeves rolled up. Camaraderie. Simpatico. Mr Ruto, the eager and scheming understudy, would stand deferentially behind his boss, hands clasped in decorum. Every now and then Mr Ruto would crack a smile. Studious. The king-in-waiting.


Seven years later – as Irish poet William Butler Yates wrote in ‘The Second Coming’ – we’ve all witnessed “Things Fall Apart”. Indeed, “the centre cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.” Mr Ruto’s carefully crafted succession plan is adrift – his ship listing, taking on water. Why did the scion of Jomo dump him?

Back then, Mr Kenyatta told fanatical Jubilee hoi polloi that he would serve for a decade, and hand the baton to Mr Ruto for “his own 10”. But as they say, a day – let alone a year – is a long time in politics. After the 2017 elections, Mr Kenyatta turned his back on his precociously ambitious deputy.

  • Makau Mutua: After Kabul, is Mogadishu next?

  • Makau Mutua: The Central-Rift political curse

At one point, Mr Kenyatta rebuked Mr Ruto in public, saying that the “principal assistant” had forcibly grabbed the “succession baton” and was running backwards. It was an extraordinary statement. Mr Ruto pretended to smile as he shifted and squirmed in his seat. Mr Kenyatta’s punch had landed with a loud report. Their relationship had irretrievably entered the Door of No Return.

Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto were both “Moi-Kanu boys”. But they weren’t a natural fit, especially after the 2008 post-election violence. The worst of it was between the Kikuyu and the Kalenjin. For that, both gentlemen ended up at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. 

Ironically, it was the ICC that united them – and their communities – even after people lustily butchered each other. It was an uncertain truce born of fear and ambition, not principle. The biblical house built on sand. Was their divorce inevitable after Mr Kenyatta secured a second term? Many thought so. But that wasn’t the real reason. Fear, I suggest, is the reason. Fear of Mr Ruto. 

Central Kenya elite

If we understand politics as the conquest of state power without violence, then it all makes sense. 

Political power is the medium through which economic power is captured, and then husbanded. 

Methinks that the Central Kenya elite learnt from the Moi-Kanu era that the presidency was the indispensable tool for taking, and keeping, the commanding heights of the economy. Lose political power and you face economic Armageddon. 

Dictator Daniel arap Moi decimated the Central Kenya business elite. The détente reached between Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto – and by implication the Kikuyu and Kalenjin elites – in the wake of the ICC cases couldn’t survive the distrust between the two. Mr Ruto can’t be trusted to protect the Central Kenya elite hold on economic power. 

More importantly, Mr Kenyatta and his larger clan don’t want to find out what Mr Ruto could do to them if he captures state power. There are signs of what animates Mr Ruto. Like Donald Trump, Mr Ruto seems to be enamoured with dictators. His close relationship with the regime of former Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir, who’s facing charges at the ICC, is a matter of public record. More concerning is Mr Ruto’s admiration of – and dalliance – with Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni. 

Mr Museveni is an African Vladimir Putin who’s essentially abolished term limits. He rules with the fiercest iron fist. All we need to know is that Mr Ruto is under Mr Museveni’s political pupillage. 

Scandal after scandal

That’s not all. Mr Ruto is dogged by allegations of scandal after scandal. Is he the sort of person to whom a wise nation would entrust its democracy? And would any elite – including those around Mr Kenyatta – be comfortable under his reign? 

Kenya is a fledgling democracy. It can be reversed easily. Mr Kenyatta himself has taken an axe to Kenya’s democratic experiment. Often, he’s torn through democratic norms, laws, even the Constitution. He’s set a terrible example for his successors.

But if we think Mr Kenyatta is illiberal and often dictatorial, then as they say, we ain’t seen nutin’ yet. Mr Ruto’s anti-democratic proclivities will probably make Mr Kenyatta’s ham-handedness look like a walk in the park.

It’s clear that Mr Kenyatta wants no part of Mr Ruto in the next administration. Which means he must back someone who can beat Mr Ruto. Mr Ruto has a right to run, and Mr Kenyatta has an equal right to stop him within the strictures of the Constitution and Kenya’s laws. But as a political matter, Mr Kenyatta owes Kenyans a candid explanation – without obfuscation – as to why he’s dumped Mr Ruto. 

Come out and say it straight, and let the chips fall where they may. On the other hand, Mr Ruto needs to speak publicly on why he thinks he’s been dumped. This is critical information for the electorate. By Makau Mutua, Sunday Nation

Makau Mutua is SUNY Distinguished Professor and Margaret W. Wong Professor at Buffalo Law School. He’s chair of KHRC. @makaumutua

Image via Radio Tamazuj


The government of Uganda says it is implementing a visa waiver for South Sudanese citizens entering Uganda from Friday, October 1st, 2021. 

“This is, therefore, to notify you that with effect 1st October 2021, citizens of the Republic of South Sudan will not be required to pay the Visa Entry Fee to enter into the Republic of Uganda,” Maj Gen Apollo Kasiita Gowa of the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control of Uganda said on Thursday. 

Last month, the Ugandan government announced plans to waive visa entry fees for South Sudanese citizens entering Uganda in a bid to implement the decision of the 36th meeting of the Council of Ministers of the East African Community vide EAC/CM/36/94 and EAC/CM/36/95. 

The protocol on the Free Movement of Persons within the East African region will ease movement within the region.

South Sudan government is expected to reciprocate by effective the Visa waiver for Ugandan citizens entering South Sudan by end of October 2021.

In April 2016, South Sudan joined the East Africa Community which includes Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi. - Radio Tamazuj

In this file photograph taken on September 17, 2021, President of the National Committee for Rally and Development (CNRD) Colonel Mamady Doumbouya (C) leaves a meeting with high level representatives of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Conakry. JOHN WESSELS / AFP 

Mamady Doumbouya, a special forces colonel who led a coup in the West African state of Guinea on September, will be sworn in as interim president on Friday, the authorities say.

Doumbouya will be sworn in at noon (1200 GMT) at the Mohammed V conference centre in the capital Conakry, a communique read late Wednesday on national television said.

He will become transitional president, serving before the country returns to civilian rule, according to a blueprint unveiled by the junta on Monday that does not mention a timeline.

The September 5 coup, the latest bout of turbulence in one of Africa’s most volatile countries, saw the overthrow of 83-year-old president Alpha Conde.

Conde became Guinea’s first democratically elected president in 2010 and was re-elected in 2015.

But last year he pushed through a controversial new constitution that allowed him to run for a third term in October 2020.

The move sparked mass demonstrations in which dozens of protesters were killed. Conde won re-election but the political opposition maintained the poll was a sham.

The “charter” unveiled on Monday vows that  a new constitution will be drafted and “free, democratic and transparent” elections held, but does not spell out how long the transition will last.


The document says the transitional president will be “head of state and supreme chief of the armed forces… (and) determines the policies of the Nation,” with the power to name and fire an interim prime minister.

However, the president will be barred from being a candidate at the elections that will take place after the transition, it says.

The turbulence in the former French colony has sparked deep concern among Guinea’s neighbours.

The coup is the second to take place in the region, after Mali, in less than 13 months.

The region’s bloc, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), is demanding that elections be held within six months, as well as Conde’s release.



A Rwandan court on Thursday sentenced a prominent YouTube commentator and genocide survivor to 15 years in prison for "inciting violence" after she hit out at President Paul Kagame on her channel.

Yvonne Idamange is one of a number of people who have fallen foul of the authorities after turning to the video-sharing platform to publish content critical of the government, raising concern among international rights groups.

The 42-year-old mother of four, who was not in court for the verdict, was convicted of six charges, sentenced to 15 years behind bars and fined the equivalent of $2,000 -- less than the 30 years and $6,000 sought by the prosecution.

Idamange, who survived the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, was arrested in February for "exhibiting behaviour that mixes politics, criminality, and madness", police said at the time. 

The Kigali High Court found her guilty of inciting violence and public uprising, denigrating genocide artefacts, spreading rumours and violent assault, among other charges.

The accusations were based on comments on her popular YouTube channel "Idamange" in which she accused Kagame and his government of dictatorship, and of exploiting the genocide without giving enough welfare to the survivors.

Her YouTube channel boasts 18,900 subscribers and an average of 100,000 views per video. 

Idamange had accused the court of bias and boycotted proceedings in June after her request for the trial to be broadcast online was rejected by the court.

Rwanda has often come under fire for rights abuses and a crackdown on freedom of speech, critics and the opposition.

In March, Human Rights Watch voiced alarm over Kigali's crackdown on people using YouTube or blogs to speak out about sometimes controversial issues in Rwanda.

HRW said then that at least eight people reporting or commenting on current affairs -- notably the impact of strict anti-Covid measures which have hit the poor hard -- have been threatened, arrested, or prosecuted in the past year.

It pointed to a 2019 statement by Kagame to highlight the dangers faced by those using online platforms: "Those that you hear speak on the internet, whether they are in America, in South Africa, or in France, they think they are far.

"They are far, but they are close to the fire. The day they get closer, the fire will burn them." - AFP/The EastAfrican

Opposition MPs addressing at parliament. Photo via The Observer


Opposition MPs have resolved to boycott parliamentary sittings as they continue mount pressure to secure the freedom of fellow legislators Allan Ssewanyana (Makindye West) and Muhammad Ssegirinya (Kawempe North).

Ssegirinya and Ssewanyana who are facing murder and terrorism charges got re-arrested soon after being granted bail by the High court. The MPs communicated their position following today's meeting chaired by the leader of the opposition in parliament (LOP), Mathias Mpuuga.

“We condemn the illegal detention of the two MPs and many other Ugandans who are being held for so long without trial,” opposition chief whip John Baptist Nambeshe said, adding that, “We will boycott the plenary sittings of parliament until the due process of the law is followed in the prosecution of our colleagues and other opposition supporters.”

The move, Nambeshe said, is intended to force the government to respect the rule of law.

“Until the two members and other Ugandans who support change who are in incarceration; some in places we don’t know are taken through due process, we shall not go back to parliament and comfortably deliberate on issues when our people are being persecuted,” Nambeshe said.

The development comes a day after opposition MPs stormed out of parliament in protest of what they termed as government’s failure to offer a satisfactory reason for the brutal re-arrest of Ssewanyana and Ssegirinya moments after they had been granted bail.

Ssewanyana was re-arrested last Thursday while Ssegirinya was re-arrested this Monday outside Kigo prison by armed security operatives. Meanwhile, the opposition has also rejected President Museveni’s push to abolish the requirement to grant bail to suspects.

“We want to confirm that we stand by the current provisions in the Constitution. Uganda obligations, internationally and regionally; we are party to the universal declaration of human rights that calls for presumption of innocence, we are a party to the international covenant on civil and political rights. All those obligations mandate us as a country to ensure that we respect the presumption of innocence and by extension, we uphold the right to apply for bail,” Bugiri MP Asuman Basalirwa said.

“We will defend the current constitutional provision that entitles anybody accused of an offence to apply for bail and will therefore not be party to any moves that are intended to remove bail from our law books. The current provisions on bail are sufficient enough to cater for Mr Museveni’s concerns,” he added.

Yesterday Tuesday, Museveni met NRM MPs to sell to them his idea of scrapping the constitutional provision on bail which Basalirwa warned is likely to cast the NRM government in bad light.

“The NRM government will go into history as the first government in the whole world to abolish bail. Not even the Taliban [in Afghanistan], not even the military regime in North Korea or in Myanmar abolished bail, so, they [NRM] will be the first should they pursue this matter to its conclusion. If Museveni wants to be the champion of being unique in that respect, we will not follow him in that uniqueness,” Basalirwa said. - The Observer

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