William Kipchirchir Samoei arap Ruto
Date of Birth: 21/12/1966
Place of Birth: Sambut Village, Kamagut, Uasin Gishu, Kenya
Education: Sambut Primary School, A Levels, Wareng Secondary School, Eldoret, Kapabet Boys High School, 1985-86. BSc in Botany and Zoology, University of Nairobi, 1987-1990.
Career: Teacher, Sirgoi Secondary School, North Rift; Kamagut Secondary School, North Rift. Founded African Venture Tours and Hotels, 1990. Elected to Parliament for the Kenya African National Union as MP for Eldoret North, 1997; appointed Home Affairs Minister, 2002; joined the Orange Democratic Movement, 2005; ran for nomination as ODM presidential candidate, 2007, but was beaten by Raila Oding; Minister for Agriculture, 2008-10; Minister for Higher Education, 2010.
Married Rachel Chebet, a teacher, in 1991 and they have six children.
Commentary: Known for his political savvy and ruthless ambition, William Ruto has managed to propel himself from relative insignificance to a position of importance within the Orange Democratic Movement. His degree of support amongst the Kalenjin in the Rift Valley gives him considerable bargaining power and is indicative of a potential split in the ODM, although Ruto denies that his differences of opinion with Prime Minister Raila Odinga are a threat to party cohesiveness.
Born in Kamagut in 1966, in many ways, Ruto is the ultimate self-made politician. Born into poverty in the Rift Valley, he sold peanuts on the Eldoret highway to supplement the family income. Graduating from the University of Nairobi with a general science degree, Ruto soon became involved with the Cyrus Jirongo-led Youth for Kenyan African National Union '92, an outfit hastily put together to campaign for Daniel arap Moi's re-election in that first multiparty election. KANU's success saw Ruto appointed Assistant Minister for Provincial Administration, and then Minister of Home Affairs.
His relationship with Moi, who feared his ambition, was not always an easy one, but Ruto supported Moi's decision to back Uhuru Kenyatta's bid to lead KANU in 2002. Following KANU's defeat in the 2002 election, together with Uhuru Kenyatta, he broke ranks with the Nicholas Biwott faction in KANU and in the run-up to the 2005 constitutional referendum, joined Raila Odinga in the ODM.
He put himself forward as a presidential candidate in 2007, but he was beaten to the ODM nomination by Odinga. He marshalled votes in the Kalenjin community during the election, garnering significant support for the ODM. A report produced by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights accuses Ruto of inciting, planning and financing ethnically motivated violent activity in the aftermath of the 2007 elections. He is even quoted as saying that the Kalenjin would uproot outsiders and burn them. The Philip Waki Report, which he condemned as unsubstantiated, also implicated him in the violence.
The International Criminal Court charged him with crimes against humanity but that did not stop him standing on a joint ticket with Kenyatta in the 2013 presidential elections in Kenya. Ruto alongside Kenyatta won the elections and they were sworn into office on the 9 April 2013 despite the charges against them. Ruto, like Kenyatta, is also due to appear in court later this year.