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Day Uhuru and Ruto performed a vanishing act - Aden Duale's account

CS Duale narrated the day when President Ruto and his predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta went off the grid together for hours, with none of their close associates knowing what was transpiring between them.

President William Ruto at the launch of Defence CS Aden Duale's book For The Record in Nairobi on May 11, 2023

Defence Cabinet Secretary Aden Duale launched his book, For The Record, on Thursday, May 11, 2023.

In the book, whose foreword is written by President William Ruto, Duale shares first account information about the intrigues and power struggles among Kenya’s political class.

One of the moments he recalled in the book was a day when President Ruto and his predecessor went offline for hours, with none of their close associates knowing what was transpiring between them.

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Speaking during an interview prior to the book launch, Duale recalled how politicians who were waiting for direction from the duo were stranded without any form of communication from their bosses.

He described the debacle that was happening behind the scene as the saddest part of his political life.

Duale said that towards the 2013 General Election, Ruto and Kenyatta had decided to form a merger of their URP and TNA parties respectively and produce a candidate among them.

We agreed on the candidature of Uhuru Kenyatta. We had a coalition agreement on the sharing of government,” the Defence CS recalled.

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After the agreement, Uhuru would later be convinced to surrender his candidature to Musalia Mudavadi, much to the dismay of both his supporters and leaders backing Ruto.

Uhuru had been convinced that he and Ruto did not stand a chance in the election and that the ICC case hanging above their heads at the time would only make things worse.

When we were about to launch our manifesto, we missed both leaders (Ruto & Uhuru). So our team in Parliament kept calling them, but they were not picking up their calls,” Duale said.

What everyone else didn’t know, while their allies were waiting for a press conference, the two were at Mudavadi’s home working out how they would include the former vice president.

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The three decided that Mudavadi would be the presidential flag bearer, Ruto the deputy president and Kenyatta would remain out of government but have a controling stake. Each was to get 33% control of the government.

When the deal was finalised, the three emerged to announce to the country the shocking news that Kenyatta had agreed to step down as a presidential candidate in favour of Musalia.

Around 5:00 pm Ruto gave me a call and asked where you guys. I said we were in Parliament and he told us to meet at Grand Regency (Laico Regency) hotel in Nairobi CBD,” he recalled.

After waiting, Duale said the Uhuru-Ruto allies were shocked when members of Mudavadi’s former UDF party stormed into the hotel congratulating them for handing them the government.

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While still trying to absorb the confusion, Uhuru, Ruto and Musalia’s convoy arrived and the trio went into a private room to draft a statement which they later read to the press and left.

What I did was, I jumped into William Ruto’s car after the presser. He was heading to the airport. I think he was going to brief Kibaki in Mombasa. Between Grand Regency and the airport, we couldn’t talk because of the driver and bodyguards,” Duale said.

He added that after arriving at the airport, Ruto took him aside just before boarding the plane and revealed that “Uhuru has thrown the towel”.

The following day, the politicians who were angered by Kenyatta’s decision threatened to bolt out of the coalition and support Raila Odinga, which would have given the former PM an easy time winning the election.

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Uhuru is a very unique animal, he doesn’t want stress. After he gave in, he went under the blanket and locked himself him the house.

"TNA guys kept on calling him, going to his gate and he refused to open the door. We camped there. Ultimately he opened. We told him if you don’t do what we want we go to Baba,” Duale recalled.

Eventually, Kenyatta rescinded his decision to back Mudavadi and blamed his decision to “evil spirits”.

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