State House has apparently scuttled Deputy President William Ruto’s trip to the United States and Canada, a move that could heighten tension and factionalism in the ruling Jubilee coalition.
The cancelled trips have also precipitated a fall-out in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where a top diplomat has been sent on compulsory leave.
Ruto was to have left Kenya on Monday.
The Star has established Ruto was to fly out for an extensive tour of the two countries in a strategic re-branding move to establish backings in influential foreign capitals. This support will bolster his bid for president in 2022 and strengthen his international credentials.
The DP also planned to meet Kenyans in the diaspora, a critical segment of the population with a massive war chest. Many of them will be voting for the first time in 2022.
The trip was planned with a large entourage consisting of top officials from the DP’s office and a host of MPs.
It was not approved by State House.
High placed sources said influential people working closely with President Uhuru Kenyatta believed the trip was simply an extension of Ruto’s 2022 campaigns.
President Kenyatta’s plea to his second in command and his allies to freeze 2022 campaigning has fallen on deaf ears and the DP has defiantly continued traversing the country to market himself.
Yesterday, Ruto’s communications secretary David Mugonyi confirmed that the DP had indeed been scheduled to travel abroad.
He maintained, however, the trip was only cancelled because of what he termed a“tight scheduling challenges” as Ruto’s foreign tours were coinciding with President Kenyatta’s.
He said Ruto was to fly to the US for “various official engagements” and proceed to Canada to speak at the Open Governance Partnership Conference scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday next week.
“However, His Excellency the President is scheduled to travel to South Africa for the presidential inauguration of Cyril Ramaphosa this Friday. Afterwards, the President is expected in Vancouver, Canada, for a Women Deliver Conference scheduled for June 3-6,” Mugonyi said.
During his trial at The Hague, Ruto argued that the President and his deputy cannot be out of the country at the same time.
But in 2016,for instance, Uhuru flew out to Zambia for The Path to Universal Access to Energy in Africa by 2025 meeting. At the same time, Ruto was in Turkey for the World Humanitarian Summit.
But in what could signal more deep-seated trouble in the Jubilee government, sources said a senior official in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was sent on compulsory leave for facilitating the DP’s trip.
An official in the Directorate of America in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was reportedly sent packing by Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma for facilitating Ruto’s trip
Details are scant.
However, before such a high-profile trip, the DP must be given a position paper, country briefs by the ministry and facilitation of visas.
On Tuesday Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau denied that the diplomat was sent on compulsory leave.
“Who said he is on suspension? Those are just rumours,” Macharia told the Star.
In February, Ruto travelled to the United Kingdom and gave a lecture at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, commonly known as Chatham House.
Global superpowers like the US and UK are influential in determining who becomes President in Africa, especially where polls are riddled with controversy.
Last week, Ruto dramatically confronted Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho, accusing him of being used to sabotage his 2022 presidential bid.
The two came face-to-face at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at around 8pm on Wednesday last week when they had gone to welcome Uhuru back from his one-day visit to Kigali, Rwanda.
Ruto confronted Kibicho asking him why he allegedly instructed county commissioners and police commanders not to provide security at his functions.
President Kenyatta is said to have demanded a briefing about of the ugly airport incident that left top military chiefs, including Chief of Defence Forces Samson Mwathethe, speechless.
Some have said the tension is linked to the freezing of confidential expenditure domiciled in the Interior Ministry.
Ruto and Interior CS Fred Matiang’i are also not in each other’s good books and a section of the DP’s allies is rallying support for Matiang’i’s removal for his alleged link to the fake gold.