Political figure William Ruto is Kenya’s present president-elect and the incumbent deputy president.
He has held several cabinet roles in the past, including those of Minister of Home Affairs from August to December 2002, Minister of Agriculture from 2008 to 2010, and Minister of Higher Education from April to October 2010.
During the 2013 election, Ruto, a member of the United Republican Party, campaigned with Uhuru Kenyatta of The National Alliance (TNA) for the position of vice president.
Half the votes went to their ticket, which won. Later, in the 2017 Kenyan general election, he and his running mate, Uhuru Kenyatta, would win the Presidency under the Jubilee Party.
Ruto’s desire to become Kenya’s President was set in motion in 2022 after winning the Presidential primary polls under the United Democratic Alliance (UDA). He won 50% of the vote.
Early life and education
William Ruto studied Botany and Zoology at the University of Nairobi and earned a Bachelor of science in each discipline in 1990.
Despite several difficulties regarding funds for his education, he earned a Ph.D from the same institution in 2018.
William Ruto was an active member of the Christian Union while attending the University for his undergraduate studies. He was also the choir’s Chairman at the University of Nairobi.
He met President Daniel Arap Moi through his church work at the University, and President Moi would subsequently introduce him to politics during the 1992 general elections.
Entry into politics
Ruto’s political career began when he accepted the position of treasurer for the Youth for Kanu ‘92 (YK’92) campaign party, which advocated for President Moi’s reelection in 1992 and taught him the fundamentals of Kenyan politics.
He is also reported to have amassed some riches at this time. President Moi disbanded YK’92 following the 1992 elections, and Ruto made unsuccessful attempts to run for several positions under the then ruling party, Kenya Africa National Union (KANU).
William Ruto and Uhuru Kenyatta
Alongside Kenyatta, Ruto ran for the Presidential election in 2013, but the 2007 post-election unrest that resulted in hundreds of deaths and more than 500,000 displaced people became a hot topic.
The two were accused of crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for their suspected involvement in fomenting violence during that incident. Despite being elected to office, they waived their immunity for them to participate in the trial.
After they were discharged, Kenyatta and Ruto fell out, creating a faction in the cabinet – some supported the President while others supported the Vice President.
Ahead of the general election that just concluded, Kenyatta allied with his former foe Raila Odinga, backing him to be his successor. At the same time, Ruto enlisted the support of three Kenyan presidents, which included Kalonzo Musyoka and Uhuru Kenyatta’s cousin Kung’u Muigai.
Ruto also had other supporters, including lawmakers who felt marginalised within the ruling Jubilee Party.
His populist Kenya Kwanza (Swahili for “Kenya First”) movement targeted not only his supporters but also unemployed young and places of opposition.
He presented himself as a hustler who sold chicken and peanuts on the streets and promised to offer more effective economic solutions than the Kenyatta and Raila Odinga dynasties.
As his deputy, he chose Rigathi Gachagua, a Kikuyu congressman, seasoned politician, and Kenyatta’s former personal assistant. They made multiple trips around the Kikuyuland region, often known as the Mount Kenya region.
According to research by local publication The Nation, two-thirds of Ruto’s votes came from seven counties in the Rift Valley, where Kalenjins predominate, and ten counties in the Mount Kenya region, where Kikuyus are the majority.
William Ruto claims his vision for Kenya is a state where everyone has the same rights,
In his victory speech, he said, “I will run a transparent, open, democratic government, and I will work with the opposition to the extent that they provide oversight over my administration”.