William Samoei Ruto
William Ruto portrait.jpg
Official portrait, 2022
5th President of Kenya
Assumed office
13 September 2022
DeputyRigathi Gachagua
Preceded byUhuru Kenyatta
11th Deputy President of Kenya
In office
9 April 2013 – 13 September 2022
PresidentUhuru Kenyatta
Preceded byKalonzo Musyoka
Succeeded byRigathi Gachagua
9th Minister for Education, Science and Technology (Kenya)
In office
21 April 2010 – 19 October 2010
PresidentMwai Kibaki
Prime MinisterRaila Odinga
Succeeded byHellen Jepkemoi Sambili (acting)
16th Minister for Agriculture (Kenya)
In office
17 April 2008 – 21 April 2010
PresidentMwai Kibaki
Prime MinisterRaila Odinga
Preceded byKipruto Arap Kirwa
Succeeded byDr Sally Kosgei
Minister for Home Affairs
In office
30 August 2002 – December 2002
PresidentDaniel arap Moi
Preceded byGeorge Saitoti
Succeeded byMoody Awori
Member of Parliament
for Eldoret North
In office
1998–2013
Preceded byReuben Chesire
Succeeded byConstituency abolished
Personal details
Born
William Kipchirchir Arap Ruto

(1966-12-21) 21 December 1966 (age 55)
Kamagut, Kenya
Political partyUnited Democratic Alliance (2021–present)
Other political
affiliations
Spouse
(m. 1991)
Children7
Residence(s)State House, Nairobi, Kenya.
Alma materUniversity of Nairobi (BSc, MSc, PhD)
WebsiteOfficial website

William Kipchirchir Samoei Arap Ruto (born 21 December 1966) is a Kenyan politician who is serving as the fifth and current president of Kenya since 13 September 2022. Prior to becoming president, he served as the 11th deputy president of Kenya from 2013 to 2022.[1][2][3][4] He previously served in several cabinet positions such as the Minister for Home Affairs, the Minister of Agriculture and as Minister for Higher Education.

Ruto was elected Member of Parliament for Eldoret North constituency from 1997 to 2007, under the KANU and 2007 to 2013 through ODM party. He was the Minister for Home Affairs in the Daniel Arap Moi administration from August to December 2002. Under the Mwai Kibaki administration, he was the Minister for Agriculture from 2008 to 2010 and Minister for Higher Education from April to October 2010. Ruto ran for the deputy presidency in the 2013 election under the United Republican Party, becoming the running mate of Uhuru Kenyatta from The National Alliance (TNA). Their ticket fetched half the total votes cast, attaining the minimum constitutional threshold for an election winner. He subsequently won the deputy presidency under the Jubilee Party alongside his running mate, Uhuru Kenyatta in the 2017 Kenyan general election. Ruto successfully ran for the presidency in the 2022 election, under the United Democratic Alliance (UDA).

Early life and education

A member of the Kalenjin people of the Rift Valley Province,[5] William Ruto was born on 21 December 1966 in Sambut village, Kamagut, Uasin Gishu County, to Daniel Cheruiyot and Sarah Cheruiyot.[6]

Education

Ruto first studied at Kerotet Primary School, then Wareng Secondary School and Kapsabet Boys High School in Nandi County, where he obtained his primary, Ordinary Level and Advanced Level education, respectively.

He then enrolled at the University of Nairobi, to study Botany and Zoology, eventually graduating in 1990 with a bachelor of science in both fields. The following year after his graduation, he enrolled for a Ph.D. at the University of Nairobi, after several setbacks,[7] he completed and graduated on 21 December 2018 with a Ph.D. from the university.

Ruto authored several papers including a paper titled Plant Species Diversity and Composition of Two Wetland in the Nairobi National Park, Kenya.[8] During his time in the campus for his undergraduate education, Ruto was an active member of the Christian Union. He also served as the Chairman of the University of Nairobi's choir.[9]

Through his church activities at the University of Nairobi, he met President Daniel Arap Moi, who would later introduce him to politics during the 1992 general elections.[10]

Political career

After graduating from the University of Nairobi in 1990, Ruto was employed as a teacher in the North Rift region of Kenya from 1990 to 1992, where he was also the leader of the local African Inland Church (AIC) Choir.[10]

YK'92

Ruto began his political career when he became the treasurer of the YK'92 campaign group that was lobbying for the re-election of President Moi in 1992, from which he learned the basics of Kenyan politics.[9][11] He is also believed to have accumulated some wealth in this period.[12] After the 1992 elections, President Moi disbanded YK'92 and Ruto attempted to vie for various KANU (then Kenya's ruling party) branch party positions but did not succeed.[13]

Member of Parliament

Ruto ran for a parliamentary seat in the 1997 general election. He surprisingly beat the incumbent, Reuben Chesire, Moi's preferred candidate, as well as the Uasin Gishu KANU branch chairman and assistant minister.[14][15] After this, he would later gain favour with Moi and be appointed KANU Director of Elections.[16] His strong support in 2002 for Moi's preferred successor Uhuru Kenyatta saw him get a place as assistant minister in the Home Affairs (Interior) ministry docket. Later in that election, as some government ministers resigned to join the opposition, he would be promoted to be the full Cabinet Minister in the ministry.[12] KANU lost the election but he retained his parliamentary seat. Ruto would thereafter be elected KANU Secretary General in 2005 with Uhuru Kenyatta getting elected as chairman.[16]

In 2005, Kenya held a constitutional referendum which KANU opposed.[9] Some members of the ruling NARC coalition government, mainly former KANU ministers who had joined the opposition coalition in 2002 under the LDP banner and who were disgruntled as the President Kibaki had not honored a pre-election MoU[17] on power-sharing and creation of a Prime Minister post, joined KANU to oppose the proposed constitution.[18] Since the symbol of the "No" vote was an Orange, this new grouping named their movement the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM). Ruto was part of its top brass, dubbed the Pentagon. He solidified his voter base in the Rift Valley Province. ODM was victorious in the referendum.[19]

In January 2006, Ruto declared publicly that he would vie for the presidency in the next general election (2007). His statement was condemned by some of his KANU colleagues, including former president Moi. By this time, ODM had morphed into a political party.[9] Ruto sought the nomination of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) as its presidential candidate, but on 1 September 2007, he placed third with 368 votes. The winner was Raila Odinga with 2,656 votes and the runner-up was Musalia Mudavadi with 391.[20] Ruto expressed his support for Odinga after the vote.[21] As KANU under Uhuru Kenyatta moved to support Kibaki,[22] he resigned from his post as KANU secretary general on 6 October 2007.[23]

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (center) walks with Minister of Agriculture William Ruto (left) and environmental and political activist Wangari Maathai (right) during a tour of the Kenyan Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) near Nairobi, 5 August 2009.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (center) walks with Minister of Agriculture William Ruto (left) and environmental and political activist Wangari Maathai (right) during a tour of the Kenyan Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) near Nairobi, 5 August 2009.

The presidential election of December 2007 ended in an impasse. Kenya's electoral commission declared Kibaki the winner, but Raila and ODM claimed the victory. Mwai Kibaki was hurriedly sworn in as the president of the December 2007 presidential election. Following the election and the dispute over the result, Kenya was engulfed by a violent political crisis. Kibaki and Odinga agreed to form a power-sharing government.[24][25] In the grand coalition Cabinet named on 13 April 2008[25] and sworn in on 17 April,[24] Ruto was appointed as Minister for Agriculture.[25] Ruto also became the Eldoret North's Member of Parliament from 2008 to 4 March 2013.[26]

Ruto was among the list of people who were indicted to stand trial at the ICC for their involvement in Kenya's 2007/2008 political violence. However, the ICC case was faced with challenges, especially concerning the withdrawal of key prosecution witnesses. In April 2016, the Court dropped charges against Ruto.[27]

On 21 April 2010, Ruto was transferred from the Agriculture Ministry and posted to the Higher Education Ministry, swapping posts with Sally Kosgei.[28] On 24 August 2011, Ruto was relieved of his ministerial duties and remained a member of parliament. He joined with Uhuru Kenyatta to form the Jubilee alliance for the 2013 presidential election.

Deputy president

Ruto with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2016
Ruto with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2016

Acting president

On 6 October 2014, Ruto was appointed acting president of Kenya by the then President Uhuru Kenyatta following his summons to appear before the ICC. He served in the role between 6 and 9 October 2014 while President Kenyatta was away at The Hague. When he officially handed over power to Ruto at the Parliament on October 6, Uhuru explained, "To protect the sovereignty of the Republic of Kenya, I will sign a legal notice appointing Hon William Ruto as acting president while I attend the status conference."[29]

In the August 2017 General Elections, Uhuru and Ruto were declared victors after garnering 54% of the total votes cast. However, the Supreme Court of Kenya nullified the election, and a fresh election was held in October 2017. The opposition boycotted the fresh election and Uhuru and Ruto were re-elected with 98% of the total votes cast. The Supreme Court upheld the results of this second election.[30]

Presidential campaign

In December 2020 Ruto announced his alliance with the newly formed United Democratic Alliance party.[31][32] He was the only presidential candidate to attend the second part of the 2022 presidential debate.[33]

On 15 August 2022, six days after the general election held on 9 August, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission chair Wafula Chebukati announced that Ruto had won the presidential election, defeating candidate Raila Odinga of the Azimio La Umoja party. Ruto received 50.49% of the valid votes cast, while Odinga received 48.85%.[34]

Odinga disputed the presidential election results announced by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, and he challenged the results with the Supreme Court.[35] On 5 September, the Supreme Court judges unanimously found that Odinga's alliance had presented inconclusive evidence of its claims that the election was rigged, and it upheld the election of Ruto as the president-elect.[36] In response to the ruling, Odinga said he respected the Supreme Court's decision even though he strongly disagreed with it.[37]

Presidency

Presidential Standard of William Ruto
Presidential Standard of William Ruto
Map showing International trips made by William Ruto as President

On 13 September 2022 he was inaugurated at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani in a ceremony precided over by the Chief Justice of the Republic of Kenya, Justice Martha Koome, and attended by over 20 head of states and governments. He officially began his term as President of Kenya.[38]

After taking office Ruto announced a pledge to address climate change and end the use of fossil fuels in Kenya's electricity production by 2030.[39]

President Ruto made his maiden foreign trip to the United Kingdom as head of state on 18 September 2022. He attended the late Queen Elizabeth II funeral service on 19 September 2022 at the Westminster Abbey in London.[40]

President Ruto made his debut address to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) as a head of state on 21 September 2022, days after arriving in New York from London where he had attended the funeral of the late Queen Elizabeth II. He nodded to President Biden’sBuild Back Better” domestic plan, proposing a global effort toward “building back better from the bottom upward.” The goal, he said, should be “including the marginalized, working majority in the economic mainstream.” Other themes he addressed were; the expansion of the representation of Africa on the U.N. Security Council[41], increased investment in Africa continent, “moving Africa from aid to investment”, tapping “the ever-bustling” human capital for economic prosperity and a concerted effort towards tackling climate change in the world.[42]

Controversies

Land grabbing

Ruto has been involved in many reported land grabbing controversies, including several Kenyan state corporations embroiled in endless litigation over the land grabs.[43] Much media, and many politicians and activists often describe him as "Arap-Mashamba" (the word being a portmanteau of son of lands).[44][45][46]

Weston hotel land

Ruto has been involved in a land grabbing saga involving his mysterious acquisition of Weston hotel land, pitted against public counter-accusations with several state corporations in Kenya, all surrounding the original owner of the land. According to The Standard, the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA), a state agency, was duped into surrendering the land on which the Weston hotel was built.[43][47] In 2001, KCAA, which originally occupied the land, was given alternative pieces of land belonging to another state agency, the meteorological department.[47] KCAA did not occupy the alternative piece of land upon which Ruto's Weston hotel was built. According to KCAA, a powerful cartel, working in the lands ministry was involved in a conspiracy to relinquish the same piece of land with several land ministry officers also involved in the conspiracy.[47] In January 2019, it emerged that according to another state agency, the National Lands Commission, Ruto owed and needed to pay the people of Kenya for the land 0.773 acres opposite Wilson Airport upon which the Weston hotel was built. In February 2019, Ruto publicly admitted the Weston land had been acquired illegally by the original owners who sold him the land, and that he had no knowledge of matter.[48][49][50] In August 2020, Ruto offered to pay the state agency for the land.[51] Later in 2020, KCAA was refused to be compensated for the land and so, demanded demolition of the hotel because of acquisition through illegality, fraud and corruption. According to the KCAA, the public land was designated for the construction of headquarters and flight paths, and it had been disposed of the land by collusion with private entities, Priority ltd and Monene Investments both reported to be associated with Ruto.[52][53][54] Later in the same month, another legislator, Ngunjiri Wambugu, demanded all other cases in Kenya involving stolen property be thrown out as long as suspects were willing to compensate for it, in an effort to complain about the preferential treatment Ruto was receiving for his involvement in the state's stolen property. In December 2020, the KCB Bank backed Ruto in the court battle to repossess the land, fearing the loss of security against the advancement of 1.2 billion shillings in Weston hotel associated with Ruto.[55]

KPC Ngong forest land scandal

Main article: KPC Ngong Forest Land Scandal

Ruto at the 54th Regular Session of the IAEA General Conference
Ruto at the 54th Regular Session of the IAEA General Conference

In 2004, Ruto was charged with defrauding another state corporation Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) of huge amounts of money through dubious land deals.[43] He was acquitted in 2011 but in 2020, as his relationship with President Uhuru Kenyatta seemed to falter amid the President's push for an anti-corruption war,[56] the police re-opened investigations in the case.[57]

Muteshi Land

In June 2013, Ruto was ordered by a court to pay a victim of 2007/08 post-election violence 5 million shillings for illegally taking away his land during the post-election violence.[58][43] In the same judgement, Ruto was evicted from the grabbed land in Uasin Gishu. Adrian Muteshi had accused Ruto of grabbing[43] and trespassing on his 100-acre piece of land in Uasin Gishu after he, Adrian, had fled his land for safety during the post-election violence of 2007/08.[58] In February 2014, Ruto appealed the court order to pay the 5 million shilling fine. In 2017, Ruto withdrew the appeal against the judgment. In October 2020, Adrian Muteshi died of an unspecified cause at the age of 86.[58]

Joseph Murumbi's 900-acres

In October 2019, the Daily Nation reported that Ruto's acquisition of a 900-acre piece of land of another former vice president Joseph Murumbi haunted Ruto because he had been involved in the irregular acquisition of the land.[59] In the same month, Ruto claimed that the articles were persistent, and obviously sponsored fake news. Later, still in the same month, a human rights lobby activist, Trusted Society of Human Rights Alliance called for an investigation into the mysterious acquisition of a 900-acre piece of land that formerly belonged to another former vice-president Murumbi.[60] According to the allegations, Murumbi had been involved in a loan dispute over loan defaults with a state corporation, AFC, against the land that was charged as a security for the loan.[60] It is alleged that Murumbi defaulted the loan and AFC took over ownership of the land that was eventually sold to Ruto after he paid off the loan owed to the state corporation.[60]

Jacob Juma assassination allegations

Ruto has been widely and repeatedly linked to the assassination of Jacob Juma by several media, activists, politicians, opposition figures in Kenya, including Jacob Juma himself.[61][62] Jacob Juma was a wealthy businessman[63] who became a fierce government critic and anti-corruption crusader who became known for posting targeted cryptic tweets against Ruto and the Jubilee government months before he was assassinated in Nairobi.[64][65][66] In December 2015, Jacob Juma, in his tweets, claimed Ruto was obsessed with killing him.[62][67] In May 2016, Jacob Juma was shot dead along Ngong Road.[68] In the same month, during the burial of Jacob Juma, a former Lugari MP Cyrus Jirongo and previously a close ally of Ruto claimed Jacob Juma had physically assaulted Ruto by slapping him for having a sour relationship over unspecified reasons.[69] Jirongo urged police to investigate the assassination based on the assault.[70] Later in the month, Ruto threatened to sue Jirongo for linking him to the assassination.[71][72] Jirongo claimed that he and another former minister, Chris Okemo, were personally involved in paying the murdered government critic university's tuition fees, and that he knew the matter surrounding the controversy all too well.[69] According to Jirongo, the same assassins were involved in the murder of Meshack Yebei, another murdered prospective defence witness in the ICC trial against Ruto.[69]

In June 2016, the Canadian newspaper Financial Post and the Kenyan newspaper The Standard both reported that Jacob Juma was the director of a Canadian company (Pacific Wildcat) whose license to explore $2 billion worth of minerals in Kwale county in Kenya was cancelled just after the Jubilee government took over.[73][74] This cancellation led Jacob Juma to call a press conference where he claimed that the then Mining Minister Najib Balala was demanding a bribe to have the cancelled license re-issued to the company. This cancellation led Jacob Juma into personal financial ruin, and it was reported he was routinely borrowing money. He became a fierce government critic after he felt short-changed out of the mining license that eventually caused his company to lose money.[75] According to a different company official of the same Canadian company, Ruto and Balala demanded transfer of the mining company's license to a new company with the Kenyan government to receive a 50% stake in the new company for free.[73][74] This eventually led Jacob Juma to become fiercely critical of Ruto and the Jubilee government in tweets, media interviews, court filings, and political correspondence with opposition figures as well as diplomatic missions in Kenya.[65][76] It later emerged Jacob Juma had promised the board of the Canadian company Pacific Wildcat that he would fight bureaucratic delays as well as the corruption that would stand in the way of getting the mining license. A high court ruling in Kenya found that the Mining minister was right to cancel the license of the Canadian company.[77]

In October 2016, photojournalist Boniface Mwangi also linked Ruto to the assassination.[78][79] Ruto sued him for defamation. According to Ruto's lawyer, the claims by the activist had lowered Ruto's standing among Kenya's "high thinking" people.[79]

In December 2016, one of the personnel from Ruto's office was reported to also link Ruto to the assassination by delivering a letter to Mwangi to help with his defamation case against Ruto by providing details of the murder by persons in Ruto's office.[80][81] In the same month, it was reported that the personnel was to be charged in court for extortion.[81] An investigating officer claimed that the arrested personnel from Ruto's office claimed that another personnel in Ruto's office called Rono had credible information that Activist Mwangi could be killed in a stage-managed road accident.[82] The arrested personnel from Ruto's office was later sent for mental check-up after he further claimed that he was coached to lie about his claims of Jacob Juma's murder by Mwangi.[82]

In February 2017, it was reported that Mwangi claimed Ruto wanted him dead like he killed Jacob Juma.[83][84]

Corruption allegations

Ruto has faced several allegations of corruption and land grabbing.[85] His former ally turned bitter nemesis Raila Odinga has accused him of corruption questioning the sources of the funds he dishes out at fundraisers on a regular basis. Several of his allies and aides have also been forced to resign amid corruption scandals.[86] He has also faced accusations of grabbing land from a primary school in Nairobi[87] and land meant for a sewerage treatment plant in Ruai, Nairobi.[88] Ruto has denied these allegations.[85]

International Criminal Court summons

Main article: International Criminal Court investigation in Kenya

In December 2010, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court announced that he was seeking the summons of six people, including Ruto, over their involvement in the 2007–8 electoral violence.[89] The ICC's Pre-Trial Chamber subsequently issued a summons for Ruto at the prosecutor's request.[90] Ruto was accused of planning and organizing crimes against supporters of President Kibaki's Party of National Unity. He was charged with three counts of crimes against humanity, one for murder, one for the forcible transfer of population, and one for persecution. On 23 January 2012, the ICC confirmed the charges against Ruto and Joshua Sang, in a case that also involved Uhuru Kenyatta, Francis Muthaura, Henry Kosgey and Major General Mohammed Hussein Ali.[citation needed] Ruto told the US government that the Kiambaa church fire on 1 January 2008 after the 2007 general election was merely accidental.[91] The Waki Commission report stated in 2009 that "the incident which captured the attention of both Kenyans and the world was a deliberate burning of live people, mostly Kikuyu women, and children huddled together in a church" in Kiambaa on 1 January 2008.[citation needed] In April 2016, the prosecution of Ruto was abandoned by the International Criminal Court.[27]

Home attack

On 28 July 2017, Ruto's home was targeted by at least one attacker armed with a machete, and the police officer on duty guarding the residence was injured.[92] During the time of the attack, he and his family were not at the compound as he had left hours earlier for a campaign rally in Kitale. There were reports of gunfire and several security sources said the attack was staged by multiple people. Police initially thought there were a few attackers because the attacker used different firearms.[93][94] Around 48 hours later, Kenya Police chief Joseph Boinnet announced that the attacker was shot dead and the situation was under control.[95]

Personal life

Ruto is married to Rachel Chebet. They were married in 1991 at AIC Kerotet, in a ceremony precided over by Bishop Rev Dr Silas Yego. The young couple first lived in Dagoretti where they had their first child, Nick Ruto.[96]

Ruto owns a considerable chicken farm in his home village of Sugoi, which was originally inspired by his stint as a live chicken hawker on the Nairobi-Eldoret-Malaba highway.[97] Ruto and his wife build a chapel in their compound at their residence in the Karen suburb of Nairobi.[98]

See also

References

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National Assembly (Kenya) Preceded byReuben Chesire Member of Parliamentfor Eldoret North 1998–2013 Constituency abolished Political offices Preceded byGeorge Saitoti Minister of Home Affairs 2002 Succeeded byMoody Awori Preceded byKipruto Rono Arap Kirwa Minister of Agriculture 2008–2010 Succeeded byMargret Nyambura Preceded byKalonzo Musyokaas Vice President of Kenya Deputy President of Kenya 2013–2022 Succeeded byRigathi Gachagua Preceded byUhuru Kenyatta President of Kenya 2022–present Incumbent Party political offices New alliance Jubilee Alliance nominee for Deputy President of Kenya 2013 Alliance dissolved New political party Jubilee Party nominee for Deputy President of Kenya Aug. 2017, Oct. 2017 Succeeded byMartha Karua UDA nominee for President of Kenya 2022 Most recent New alliance Kenya Kwanza nominee for President of Kenya 2022