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William Ruto’s Presidential Ambition Receives A Boost

William Ruto’s push for the Kenyan presidency got a boost, and he has the Court of Appeal to thank.

The judges  threw out President Uhuru Kenyatta’s proposed constitutional amendments, including reintroducing executive positions such as a prime minister and deputies that many saw as a way to reward future alliance partners. They are also seen as a veneer to keep Ruto from ascending to the top job after next year’s elections.

The reforms were backed by opposition leader Raila Odinga, with whom Kenyatta has recently allied with. That partnership sidelined Ruto, the deputy president who had expected that 2022 would be his year in exchange for supporting the president in the last two votes. The relationship between the two leaders has since  soured.

Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto
Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya’s president, left, and William Ruto in 2013.

Kenyatta and Odinga argue that the proposals, if implemented, would end the ethnic violence that’s plagued Kenyan politics for decades, by sharing ruling positions more equitably. While Kenyatta can’t run again, he could have had more influence over the choice of his successor — most likely Odinga.

Ruto lauded the ruling as a win for the ordinary Kenyan against the elite. Kenyatta is the son of the former British colony’s first president and Odinga is the offspring of the first vice president.

While that may strike a chord in a nation where the top positions have been closely guarded by a small ruling class, Ruto himself is one of the country’s richest people.

Still, with Kenyatta and Odinga losing their  trump card — the offer of executive positions to smaller political groups — Ruto can build his own political formation.

The race is far from decided, but Ruto is once again on track.

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