By Geoffrey Isaya
Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto says he is ready to go head-to-head with former Prime Minister Raila Odinga in the 2022 race to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Speaking on Sunday in Meru County, DP Ruto, however, challenged Odinga to come out clean that he would accept defeat in the next election.
Ruto was speaking in reference to media reports suggesting that the opposition leader would contest for presidency in the coming General Election. Odinga has rubbished the newspaper reports but has neither denied nor confirmed that he will be on the ballot come 2022.
“I have heard that he has announced that he wants to compete with me in 2022. I do not have a problem competing with him, but he must first tell and assure Kenyans that in case of a defeat, he will accept the decision of the Kenyan voters,” said the Deputy President.
“Let him first tell the country that in case of defeat, he will not cause chaos.”
Ruto, however, said he is currently ‘busy’ focusing on fulfillment of the Jubilee government’s development agenda.
“But for the time being, I want to tell him that I am busy ensuring that the Jubilee manifesto and the Big Four agenda are realised,” said the DP.
Earlier on Sunday, Mr. Odinga said he was “deeply disappointed” by the media reports placing him in the 2022 presidential race.
In a statement issued by his spokesperson Dennis Onyango, Odinga said his calls for his party ODM to prepare for grassroots elections were “deliberately twisted” to mean he is in the presidential race.
“Raila Odinga strongly objects to reports appearing in the Sunday Nation today that put him in a presidential race he has not declared any interest in and which does not exist currently,” read part of the statement.
“Mr Odinga entered no race yesterday and he knows no race that is on as reported in Sunday Nation. It’s way too early.”
The former premier who is also the African Union High Representative for Infrastructure said focusing on the 2022 elections would undermine efforts towards addressing issues facing the country such as “violent elections every five years, runaway corruption, troubles in the counties, reforms to education and endangered national values.”