Home GENERAL NEWS Has Kenyatta’s BBI failure boosted Ruto’s 2022 chances?

Has Kenyatta’s BBI failure boosted Ruto’s 2022 chances?

by biasharadigest

When President Uhuru Kenyatta’s controversial bid to enlarge Kenya’s executive was rejected by the courts in May, it was a major boost for one of the president’s former allies turned leading rival. William Ruto, Kenya’s deputy president, has been vehemently opposed to the contentious bill known as the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI). 

Kenya’s President, Uhuru Kenyatta (right) leans in to listen to his deputy, William Ruto (left), during the launch of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report in November 2019.(Photo: TONY KARUMBA / AFP)

The constitutional amendment was first suggested by the president in the aftermath of the disputed 2017 election. It sought to bring back the post of prime minister, introduce 70 new constituencies and create up to 300 new unelected members of parliament. 

Supporters, who include Kenya’s long-running opposition leader Raila Odinga, argue that it will make Kenya’s divisive ethnic-led politics more inclusive. But critics say that it is merely a way for Kenyatta to continue to exert power by maintaining influence over the executive even after he is due to step down in 2022. 

To date, the president has been plagued by a succession crisis in which he is yet to back a certain candidate. Many believe that he wishes to continue Kenya’s dynastic politics, where power is kept among the elite families that came to the fore during the country’s formative years of independence. Uhuru Kenyatta is the son of independence leader Jomo Kenyatta, who went on to serve as prime minister and the country’s first president. 

Ruto, on the other hand, has been sidelined from Kenyatta’s election plans and the ruling Jubilee Party, of which he is a member. The former chicken trader, who relates to working class Kenyans by calling himself the head of the “hustler nation”, has drummed up immense popularity as an anti-establishment figure who can rock the boat. 

The rejection of BBI by the courts has strengthened Ruto’s hand and put him on a path to convincingly contest the election in August 2022. 

“The BBI ruling gives Ruto a substantial boost and leaves him as a clear political frontrunner,” says Meron Elias, Horn of Africa researcher at Crisis Group. 

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