Deputy President William Ruto deserves credit for taking responsibility and apologizing to former Prime Minister Raila Odinga for the attack he endured in Uasin Gishu last week.
In the often toxic hand-to-hand combat Kenyan presidential campaigns, it was refreshing to see a leading candidate take to the mic to apologize directly and unambiguously to his opponent for the actions of his supporters.
“I also take this opportunity to apologize to the honorable Raila Odinga for what happened to him yesterday. It was really unfortunate, and I hope those who engaged in this exercise regret what they did,” Ruto said. “We’ll roll out the party structures to work with the security agencies so that we can get to the root of this act.”
The apology marked a vital step in de-escalating the tension caused by the attack on Odinga that damaged his helicopter and disabled it. Some Odinga supporters vowed revenge on Ruto the next time he came to campaign in their stronghold– a prospect that could unleash a dangerous tit-for-tat cycle of violence.
In November 2021, Ruto’s motorcade was stoned in Kondele, Kisumu, during a campaign stop that turned violent. Some Ruto supporters have argued that Odinga should have apologized for that incident.
With the apology, Ruto has masterfully managed a crisis threatening to derail his campaign’s messaging. Before the attack, the Kenya Kwanza coalition was riding high after a favorable Supreme Court ruling that handed them a much-needed victory against the Azimio la Umoja duo of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Odinga.
The attack took place when Odinga and his team were attending the funeral of Mzee Jackson Kibor in Soy constituency Uasin Gishu.
Kenya’s general election is scheduled for August 9th.
SEE RUTO’S APOLOGY STATEMENT BELOW