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President Kenyatta bids to expel Deputy Ruto from government

As his personal fortune is probed amid talk of impeachment, William Ruto claims he is being targeted by the 'Deep State'

President Uhuru Kenyatta's bid to force out his deputy William Ruto could trigger further political instability ahead of national elections in August.

We hear officials in Nairobi are scrutinising Ruto's financial empire as part of a probe which could form grounds for impeachment. But such a plan could spark fresh battles in parliament where Ruto retains strong support.

Ruto is campaigning for the presidency and is in a tight race against Kenyatta's close ally Raila Odinga.

At Labour Day celebrations on 2 May, Kenyatta pledged he would raise the minimum wage by 12%. He also urged his deputy Ruto to quit, blaming him for the collapse of the governing Jubilee Party which they formed together eight years ago.

Kenyatta accused Ruto of shirking his constitutional duties and of campaigning for the presidency using state resources. Relations between Kenyatta and Ruto have hit rock bottom this month. It follows Kenyatta's snubbing of Ruto at the memorial service for President Mwai Kibaki on 29 April (AC Vol 63 No 9, The political class salutes Mwai Kibaki, the last of the independence generation).

Yet Kenyatta has few options to push out Ruto from the government. He and his allies would have to prove that Ruto is incapacitated or try to impeach him, a convoluted and politically contentious process.

The bad blood between the two men at the top of government has unleashed a spate of claims and counter-claims in speeches and on social media. Ruto supporters suggest that Kenyatta's backing for Odinga is part of a plan to retain influence over government after his second term expires.

Ruto reserves most of his vitriol for Odinga, characterising Kenyatta as a willing dupe in the election campaign. It was Odinga and his 'handshake alliance' with Kenyatta which wrecked the Jubilee government, insists Ruto.

'Those you ASSIGNED my RESPONSIBILITIES & 'project' mzee have let you DOWN miserably', Ruto claimed on Twitter, adding that the government's last cabinet meeting was held two years ago.

Ruto's allies say Kenyatta is refusing to appoint a new Secretary to the Cabinet, the civil servant tasked with coordinating the transition of power.

The Cabinet Secretary leads a committee, including the Chief of Defence Forces, the Cabinet Secretary for Interior, the Inspector General of Police, and the Attorney General, which organises the transition process for a new government. Ruto's allies accuse Kenyatta of trying to pack the committee with his own allies and people close to Odinga.

This ties in with Ruto's campaign claim that Nairobi's 'deep state' is plotting to rig the August elections. The suspicions are mutual between the front-runners. Odinga has also hinted that he will not accept the election results if he judges them not to be free and fair (AC Vol 63 No 5, Ruto goes West). 

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