|William Ruto, MP for Eldoret North|
Compiled by Jerry Okungu
February 9 2012
Ruto has been a member at least four political parties since he joined active politics 22 years ago. He has been a member of Kenya African National Union, Orange Democratic Movement, United Democratic Movement and now United Republican Party
He is a Kenyan politician who was Minister in the Kenyan government and currently an accused suspect, by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for committing crimes against humanity.
On the 19th of October 2010, he was suspended by the government on corruption charges He had previously served in the Ministry of Agriculture since April 2008.
Before that Ruto was elected Director of Elections on 18 March 2002, when the National Development Party led by Raila Odinga merged with the Kenya African National Union (KANU). He later became Secretary General of KANU during the 2005 party elections. He has been MP for Eldoret North Constituency since the 1997 after trouncing the former M.P, the late Rueben Chesire.
He became an Assistant Minister in the Office of the President and was appointed Minister in charge of Home Affairs in August 2002 but lost the post after the December 2002 elections when the National Rainbow Coalition took power. He also previously served as the Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitutional Reform in the 9th Parliament.
On November 3, 2010, Ruto flew to the International Criminal Court at The Hague to discuss an evidence deal with the ICC Prosecutor. However, on 15 December 2010, Ruto was named in a summons by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, in relation to his role in violence which followed from the 2007 elections
William Samoei Ruto was born on 21 December 1966 in Kamagut, Uasin Gishu to the late Mzee Daniel Cheruiyot and Mama Sarah Cheruiyot. He attended Kerotet Primary School for his primary school education then joined Wareng Secondary School for his Ordinary Levels education before proceeding to Kapsabet Boys, Nandi for his Advanced Levels. He then went on to receive a BSc (Botany and Zoology) from the University of Nairobi, graduating in 1990. He then enrolled for a MSC degree. During an appearance on the comedy show Churchill Live in June 2011, he said he intended to complete his Masters’ degree which he has since completed and graduated in 2011.
Early Political career
Ruto started his political career as Organising Secretary of the much discredited Youth for Kanu '92 (YK92), a group that was formed to drum up support for President Daniel arap Moi in the 1992 first Multiparty elections in three decades. His comrades at the time were Cyrus Jirongo, Sam Nyamweya and a host of other KANU Young Turks that were attracted to KANU by the largesse Moi had offered them rather than their known political ideologies. In the process, their activities are believed to have ruined Kenya’s economy with persistent suspicion that the Central Bank printed enough money to finance the then corrupt regime of Moi’s reelection. As Youth for Kanu’92, they were the direct beneficiaries because they controlled the campaign funds. And for the first time, Kenyans saw the Ksh 500 note that was quickly nicknamed Jirongo!
In January 2006, Ruto declared publicly that he would stand for the presidency in the next general election, scheduled for December 2007. His statement was condemned by some of his KANU colleagues, including former President Daniel arap Moi.
Ruto sought the nomination of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) as its presidential candidate, but in the party's vote on 1 September 2007, he was placed third with 368 votes, behind the winner, Raila Odinga with 2,656 votes and Musalia Mudavadi with 391. Ruto expressed his support for Odinga after the vote. He resigned from his post as KANU Secretary General on 6 October 2007.
The presidential election of December 2007 ended in an impasse. Kenya's Electoral Commission declared Kibaki the winner while exit polls had clearly placed Raila Odinga ahead by at least one million votes. Despite the ECK naming Kibaki the winner, Raila and ODM claimed victory.
In a scene that has been replicated all over Africa, Mwai Kibaki was hurriedly sworn in as the President on 30 December 2007. Following the election and dispute over the result, Kenya was engulfed by a violent political crisis. Kibaki and Odinga later agreed to form a power-sharing government after weeks of international mediation. In the Grand Coalition Cabinet named on 13 April 2008 and sworn in on 17 April, Ruto was appointed as Minister for Agriculture.
On 21 April 2010, President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga removed Ruto from the Agriculture Ministry, and transferred him to the Higher Education Ministry, swapping posts with Dr. Sally Kosgey after a maize scandal rocked the Agriculture Ministry.
On 24 August 2011, William Ruto was relieved of his ministerial duties after being charged with economic crimes in a local court. Today, he remains an ordinary member of parliament.
International Criminal Court summons
In December 2010, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court announced that he was seeking summonses of six people, including Ruto over their involvement in the 2007-8 electoral violence. The ICC's Pre-Trial Chamber subsequently issued a summons for Ruto at the prosecutor's request.
Ruto is accused of planning and organizing crimes against supporters of President Kibaki's Party of National Unity. He is charged with three counts of crimes against humanity, one each of murder, forcible transfer of population and persecution.
On 23 January 2012, the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber 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.
He told the American government that the Kiambaa church fire on 1 January 2008 after the 2007 Kenyan general election was accidental.
The Waki Commission report stated in 2009 that "the incident which captured the attention of both Kenyans and the world was the deliberate burning alive of mostly Kikuyu women and children huddled together in a church" in Kiambaa on 1 January 2008.
The death toll was 17 burned alive in the church, 11 dying in or on the way to hospital, and 54 others injured who were treated and discharged.
William Ruto was on trial charged with defrauding the Kenya Pipeline Company of huge amounts of money through dubious land deals, but the case was later terminated for lack of witnesses. The Constitutional Court suspended further hearing of the case due to complaints by Ruto that the prosecution was politically engineered. However, the High Court cleared the path for criminal charges against the Higher Education minister over the alleged sale of a piece of land in Ngong’ forest to Kenya Pipeline Company Ltd. He was however acquitted of the allegations after a court declared him innocent.
In early 2009 after parliamentary debate on a maize scandal, Ruto was accused of illegally selling maize by Ikolomani MP Bonny Khalwale the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee Chairman. All the documents bearing the National Cereals and Produce Board seal that linked Mr. Ruto to the illegal sale of maize were accepted by Parliament’s deputy speaker.
Managers of the board stated maize was allocated to some individuals allegedly on the strength of a call by Mr. Ruto. Tables showed that the cereals board had in store 2.6 million bags of maize in June 2008 and had allocated maize to companies and individuals described as undeserving.
Ruto had informed the House that the maize in the stores at the time was 1.6 million bags. William Ruto attributed the maize scandal allegations and claims of his involvement in corruption to the work of his “political enemies.
While Ruto and Odinga were both from the Orange Democratic Movement of the power-sharing government, they disagreed on the issue of the proposed constitution draft with Ruto calling for rejection of the draft in the upcoming constitutional referendum, arguing that some of its clauses were unsuitable while Odinga and Kibaki campaigned for the constitution which won with a majority
In his early days at the University of Nairobi, Ruto was a staunch African Inland Church (AIC) member who was elected the leader of the University Christian Union choir. That gave him the very first opportunity to meet his mentor, retired President Moi, as the choir was occasionally called upon to entertain the Head of State.
Close friends say it was exposure to the glamour of State House in those formative days that inspired the young man to want to be President one day, some day.
While in college, Moi would request Ruto to accompany him in trips overseas. The first such trip was to Indonesia. Ruto talks about it with relish to this day.
On leaving college and having ‘tasted’ proximity to power, there was no turning back even as Ruto was hired as a temporary teacher at first at Sirgoi secondary school and later at Kamagut secondary, both in the North Rift.
He quit teaching and registered a business company in Nairobi ostensibly to use it as a bridge to get where he wanted-in the world of politics and big money. At the same time he found whiled away as a masters’ degree student at Chiromo while he marked time to get where he wanted.
In early 1990s, he established a company, African Venture Tours and Hotels, which gave him the opportunity to meet his like-minded. They included Cyrus Jirongo, the late Victor Kebenei, Sammy Kogo Boit and Sam Nyamweya. Others were the late Pyman Onyango and Lazarus Amayo. The group finally introduced him to the all -important contacts, the Moi siblings Gideon and June. By now he was halfway where he wanted to be.
Come 1992 election, Ruto naturally found himself in the core team that founded the Kanu campaign machine, the Youth for Kanu ’92. The YK ’92 tale about big money, fast riches, and much power is well documented. However, the honeymoon did not last long.
As soon as Kanu was back in power, Ruto and indeed, the entire YK ’92 fraternity were punted to outer edges of power and privilege. But by 1997 election, Ruto & co. had their revenge when they made their debut to parliament as “independents” within Kanu.
Then he teamed up with Kipruto Kirwa of Cherangany constituency, John Sambu of Mosop and Cyrus Jirongo of Lugari to become the thorn-in-the-flesh within Kanu.
But somehow, along the way in year 2000, they changed tune to become chief defenders of their faith.
Ruto was subsequently appointed Assistant Minister for Provincial Administration and Internal Security and made history in being the only assistant minister allowed to attend cabinet meetings.
He quickly eclipsed power broker, Mark Too, and soon became Moi’s point-man in selling Project Uhuru in Rift Valley province. By then he had been promoted to a full minister and posted to the Home Affairs office.
In 2003 Kanu was ousted from power, Ruto stuck with Uhuru and Moi to ward off challenge for Kanu leadership from a faction led by Keiyo South MP, Nicholas Biwott.
The tables turned only when he and Uhuru differed with Moi over Kanu associating with the new kid on the block, ODM-Kenya.
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