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Is William Ruto a Warlord? In African folklore, there is a character that looms large for its polished deception that often results in sizzling dramatic irony. The story usually culminates in a situation where the devious, meek-looking carnivore is entrusted with the care of the docile herbivores, often depicted as sheep. There is likelihood that lore might imitate life in the on-going dialogue over the Kenyan crisis, particularly given the appointment of people linked to tribal violence as negotiators and engineers of peace. William Ruto was recently appointed by ODM as one of its three negotiators in the Kofi Annan-led mediation efforts that aim to reconcile Kenyans after a spate of post-election violence. Is Kenya entrusting its peace negotiations to a war monger? If indeed William Ruto is a war monger, as has been alleged, how can we expect him to negotiate in good faith in the larger interest of the country? Or is this a case of sending a thief to catch a thief? What is clear is that Ruto is being increasingly seen as directly linked to the violence, particularly in the Rift Valley, and as a key player determinant of whether Kenya remains peaceful or degenerates into anarchy. As this report in Time magazine states, Ruto holds the key to this crisis. “William Ruto, part of Odinga's inner circle, and his ilk are key to this crisis. Yes, they attend peace talks, but they're accused of inciting ethnic violence on the side. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1708845,00.html Who is this man, Ruto? William Samoei Ruto is the youthful and articulate Member of Parliament for Eldoret North. He is very good on the stump, and his urbane manner and mostly flawless English and Kiswahili set him apart from older generation Kalenjin politicians who speak tortured versions of these languages. A member of the Nandi sub-tribe of the Kalenjin meta-ethnic group, he shares a name with the legendary Kalenjin hero, Orkoiyot Koitalel Turugat arap Samoei, whose resistance to British colonialism led to his death at the hands of the British imperialist Captain Richard Meinertzhagen. Many Kalenjins view Ruto as the reincarnation of Koitalel, or at least a descendant. Like Koitalel, Ruto is seen as defending Kalenjin rights; these are imagined in pre-contact terms when the Nandi numbered 30,000 and raided their neighbors with impunity. This myth is instrumental in understanding how Ruto was able to emerge as the foremost Kalenjin leader at the age of less than 40 years, dethroning former President Daniel who is seen as hailing from the

Tugen, a smaller Kalenjin sub-tribe, and supplanting the likes of Nicholas Biwott, who hails from the less gallant Elgeyo sub-tribe of the Kalenjin. What is important to note about Ruto, whoever, is that despite his shinning political star, he not managed to dispel numerous accusations that he is deeply involved in the instigation of clashes that have led to the displacement of thousands of people in the Rift Valley in organized violence. See Senior Lawyer Mutula Kilonzo’s interview of how violence in the Rift Valley was organized: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXfuLxaMUBE To be fair to Ruto, he has not yet been tried and found guilty of such incitement or for his role as the kiptainik (leading warrior). However, there is a sizeable amount of published information that tends to link him to the violence. Amongst other reports, he was cited for hate speech in a document called Still Behaving Badly: Second Periodic Report of the Election-Monitoring Project, published in December last year by the Kenya National Human Rights Commission. But this report was but a tip of the iceberg. Ruto has also been named in parliament as an instigator of tribal clashes. According to the Parliamentary Hansard of April 2007 on page 346, a former assistant minister for planning and national development Mr. J. Serut, a fellow Kalenjin, named Hon Samoei (Ruto), amongst others, as the group that was inciting people in Mt. Elgon Area of Kenya. The violence in that area – and as far as Kitale - claimed 200 lives last year, mainly members of the Bukusu community who are seen, like the Kikuyus and Kisiis, as having illegally occupied land in the Rift Valley that “belongs” to the Kalenjin. A dozen policemen, including members of the elite GSU paramilitary, also lost their lives in the Mt. Elgon violence blamed on the so-called Saboti Land Defence Forces (SLDF). Interestingly, a Mr. Fred Chesebe Kapondi, who was arrested and charged with the violence last year, was elected as Member of Parliament on an Orange Democratic Movement (ODM).His charges are still pending in court and he will have to divide his time between parliament and the courts. Mr. Kapondi is in good company in the ODM. Hon Ruto, and others such as Franklin Bett, a member of parliament from the greater Kericho district which has seen a lot of violence directed at Kisiis and Kikuyus, also belongs to ODM. Mr. Bett was also named in parliament by Mr. Serut for his role in fomenting violence. While it could be argued that Mr. Serut was misusing parliamentary privilege to name individuals such Ruto, what is clear is that Hon. Ruto’s name keeps coming up whenever incitement is reported – in and out of parliament. According to KNHRC’s report on the Constitutional Referendum published in

September 2006, Ruto was once again named for incitement in the run up to the constitutional referendum of November 2005. KANU Youth ’92, Kalenjin Warriors and Mayhem Available reports show that Ruto has been mentioned in the same breadth with violence for a long time. He made his considerable wealth as a leader of the Youth for KANU ’92, a dubious lobby group that was formed to support the Presidency of former dictator Daniel arap Moi. At the time the organization was formed, he was a Masters student in zoology at the University of Nairobi. He abandoned his studies to throw his weight with Moi’s totalitarianism and to take advantage of the free money flowing into the organization. This organization was famous for one thing: its bottomless pockets. It was never clear where the money came from, but it has been claimed that former Central Bank governor Eric Kotut, a fellow Kalenjin, printed paper money to finance Moi’s campaign. Other reports allege that this money came from the Goldenberg swindle which started in the early 1990s, and in which the Kenyan taxpayer lost over Shs. 80 billion. If this is true, Ruto, his YK’92 colleague Cyrus Jirongo, as well as Musalia Mudavadi, the finance minister at the height of the heist, have a good motivation to prevent a government that might prosecute them. Aware of this murky past, the British have slapped a ban on Ruto so that he cannot travel to the UK. YK’92, as the lobby was called, was manned by youthful operatives in flashy suits, the most conspicuous ones being Ruto and Jirongo. However, the YK’92 represented the urban, sophisticated face of a campaign whose mantra was to show that multiparty politics was not going to work in Kenya. The mission of YK’92 included vote buying, bribery, and intimidation. In the rural areas of the Rift Valley, the more unsophisticated phase of YK’92 was in operation. Styled as “Kalenjin warriors,” and armed with bows and arrows, some of industrial grade, their mission was to drive out Kikuyu, Kisii, Luo and Luhya voters. It is notable that the very first clashes broke out in Nandi, Ruto’s neighboring district that still retains the name of the tribe. A report compiled by Human Rights Watch called Divide and Rule, notes: “The ethnic clashes first broke out on October 29, 1991, at Meteitei farm in Tinderet, Nandi District, on the border of Rift Valley, Nyanza, and Western Provinces….As the fighting continued, the Kalenjin community was accused of attacking the Luo community….Luo leaders, whose community was the first to be affected by the clashes, concluded that the violence was the direct result of the majimbo rally held at Kapsabet a month earlier. After the violence erupted, leaflets were distributed in the area warning Luos and other nonKalenjins to leave the area by December 12, 1991, or “face the consequences.” The leaflets were signed by a group calling itself the Nandi Warriors. ”

These Nandi Warriors later became known as the “Kalenjin Warriors,” as more attacks were launched on non-Kalenjins. According to Divide and Rule, “The attackers were often identically dressed in informal uniform of shorts and teeshirts and always armed with traditional bows and arrows as well as pangas. Sometimes, the warriors would have their faces marked in the traditional manner with clay. The warriors would loot, kill, and burn houses, leaving death and destruction in their wake.” Some of the fiercest fighting was between the Kalenjin and the Luo. This is how Divide and Rule puts it: “The Kericho-Kisumu road was temporarily closed as “Kalenjin warriors” armed with bows and arrows battled with Luos across the road. The confrontation between the two communities followed an attack by Kalenjins against hundreds of Luos residing in Nandi and Kericho Districts during which the Kalenjins had looted and burned Luo homes. The Luo community responded with a counter-attack. A Luo policeman trying to stop the fighting allegedly killed a Kalenjin, resulting in a new attack by the Kalenjins against neighboring Owiro farm, populated by Luos.” Given this history, it would appear that the Luo, in their bid for power, have suppressed their memory and allowed themselves to be dragged by their leaders into a pact with the devil for political expediency. Although the Kenyatta regime was accused of carrying out targeted assassinations of politicians deemed to be a threat, it is true to say that in terms of ethnic groups, there no community in Kenya that has caused more death and destruction to fellow Kenyans than the Kalenjin. Keeping Democracy at Bay According to researcher Prisca Mbura Kamungi in her 2001 report: The Current Status of Internally Displaced Persons in Kenya: “Research into the violence indicates that the affected communities were mainly supporters of opposition parties. The Kenya government got into pluralism involuntarily due to internal and international pressure, 13 and it is alleged that KANU leaders were firmly resolved on either reverting the country to one party status or keeping genuine democracy at bay.” The way democracy was to be kept at bay was through Majimboism, a form of uniquely Kenyan ethnic federalism, calls of which have been associated with violence since Kenya’s independence from Britain in 1963. People in the Rift Valley, specifically Kalenjins, were incited against fellow Kenyans who had settled in their midst. This was done with a specific purpose: ensuring that the opposition, then mainly Kikuyu and Luo, did not garner the required 25 percent in the Rift Valley for their presidential candidate. The Kenya Human Rights Commission put it succinctly in one of their aptly named reports called Killing the Vote. If enough pro-democracy people could be killed, why, it was possible for authoritarianism to prevail.

As reward for executing the violence, local people were told that those nonlocal people who had settled in their midst had exploited them for social benefits. That they had settled in their areas away from their ancestral lands was pointed out as evidence of this exploitation. Kamungi writes: “The violence was therefore explained by politicians to be caused by resentful locals who wanted these benefits for themselves, an aim achievable only through eviction of the 'aliens' or 'foreigners'.” What is often lost to most observers is the connection between the violence of 1992, 1997, and 2002, and 2007. For a start, the violence was perpetrated against other communities by one community – the Kalenjin. It targeted people who had settled in the Rift Valley regardless of their ethnic origins so long as they were non-Kalenjins. The attacks were accompanied by theft and looting of private property by Kalenjin warriors. In these incidences, the government was reluctant to take the Kalenjin head on, thereby emboldening them to conduct the next raid during the next raiding season. These raids coincide with moments when the country was exercising its democracy – elections. It is as if some elements within Kalenjin politics are still intent on keeping genuine democracy at bay. Genuine democracy initially meant multipartyism, which was seen as inimical to Kalenjin interests by threatening “their” hold on power because President Moi is Kalenjin. Today, genuine democracy means not just liberal democracy, but also a general acceptance of the democratic tenets of majority rule, equal opportunity, and rule of law. For Kalenjin nationalists, this is unacceptable. Majority rule to some Kalenjins means that Kikuyus will dominate, even though it is clear that no one community in Kenya can rule without the coming together with other communities. Equal opportunity also does not appear to satisfy some of them; many were unable to take advantage of opportunities availed to them disproportionately by President Moi. Rule of law is also a problem for some Kalenjins; it means that past crimes, including raids by Kalenjin warriors will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and that people who acquired public property or bankrupted state companies will also face the law. Given this state of affairs, some prominent Kalenjin politicians continue to portray both majority rule and rule of law as a conspiracy by the Kikuyu to monopolize power and wealth without stating that that mode of governance threatens the Kalenjin way of life. The Gema Numerical Strength and Democracy in Kenya That is why they find it difficult to accept an electoral outcome that favors a candidate that they don’t control. Currently, the argument is muddled by those who do not want to accept the reality of Kenya’s demographics, which are such that any presidential candidate from the GEMA communities who manages to command the support of that constituency is always at a huge advantage. For a start, such a candidate starts of with 30 percent of the total national vote

based on the larger GEMA population (Kikuyu, Embu, Meru) and has to work just to top up the vote and to garner the mandatory 25 percent of the vote in five of the eight provinces. In contrast, a candidate from, say, the Luo, starts of with 12 percent of the national vote. If such a Luo candidate manages to attract the entire Kalenjin vote, he starts with only 24 percent against the GEMA candidate’s 30 percent. In the recent election, that is what happened. ODM’s strategy of vilifying the GEMA created a siege mentality that resulted in a huge voter turn out in a community that generally does not vote in large numbers. PNU candidates in GEMA areas had only one message for their people: get out and vote. And they did; voter turn out in GEMA areas increased significantly compared to the 2005 constitutional referendum figures. Unfortunately, the ODM candidate could not even command the total unadulterated Luhya vote which would have helped to tip the balance. And because Luhya’s did not feel fully invested in an ODM presidency –which they saw as Luo – they did not turn out in large numbers, denying the ODM candidate vital votes. Not to mention, of course, that the Bukusu, a sub-tribe of the Luhya, as immigrants into the Rift Valley, have more in common with Kisii and Kikuyu than with the Luo. Any fair analysis of this electoral outcome has to take into account Kenya’s tribal politics and demographics. As Kiraitu Murungi asked in an article in the Sunday Nation of February 3 2008, are the 4.5 million Kenyans who voted for Kibaki not Kenyans? Kibaki’s first term was remarkable for its tolerance and freedom, besides the economic progress that has been noted by the World Bank, IMF, and notable international and credit rating agencies. It is also remarkable for ensuring the kind of diversity Kenya has never seen since independence. This ethnic diversity and balance was has been noted by Dr. David Throup of John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), an expert on Kenya, in an article published by the Center for International & Strategic Studies. Except for the ministry of finance, which Kibaki probably felt he needed to keep close reigns on, the administration was easily the most ethnically diverse ever. However, it is true that Kibaki did retire a number of Kalenjin bureaucrats as it was felt that the government was susceptible to being undermined by some of the Kalenjin bureaucrats beholden to the ideology of Kalenjin nationalism. The reason why a number of senior Kalenjin civil servants were removed after Kibaki came to power, in addition to the need by Kibaki to reward his political supporters, has something to do with the view that the intricate Kalenjin networks established under Moi were a threat to the new regime. However, Kalenjin rank and file was not targeted and retained their jobs in the civil service.

Ruto and the Specter of Violence Back to Ruto. In 2002, it was alleged that Ruto had slapped Mr. Reuben Chesire, a fellow Nandi and a former Chairman of the Industrial Development Bank over a dispute in State House. Chesire is a senior elder of the Nandi. If that was an allegation, however, a threat by Ruto that he would assault Chesire at a future date was very real as per this story, which also links Ruto to incitement and violence in the Rift Valley, clearly states: http://www.nationaudio.com/News/DailyNation/05072002/Comment/Commen t73.html Ruto also said during a rally at Gatundu in 2002, that KANU would form the next government with or without the support of the Kikuyu community (This is an acknowledgement of the weight of the Kikuyu vote). In saying so, he was perhaps alluding to the extra-constitutional strategies employed to prevent them from voting. According to UK’s Daily Telegraph, during the 2002 campaign Ruto was amongst two government ministers warned by the Electoral Commission for “serious polling offences.” This warning came amid “increasingly persistent allegations of intimidation, fraud and looting of state funds.” http://www.telegrap h.co.uk/news/ main.jhtml? xml=/news/ 2002/12/23/ wkeny23.xml In the current violence, voices are increasingly emerging that link Ruto directly to the violence in the Rift Valley. A report by Time magazine stated as follows: “In Eldoret, for example, some locals accused William Ruto, a leader of Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement and a Kalenjin, of hate speech in the run-up to the vote. "He's the main inciter," said a man named Benjamin, who refused to give his last name for fear of punishment. "He said that if we are not going to win as ODM, we will not accept to stay with the Kikuyus. They will have to go." http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1708362,00.html?xid=feedcnn-world And this report by the Statesman says clearly that Ruto participated in preelection agitation for violence http://www.statesman.com/news/content/news/stories/world/01/13/0113ke nyaunrest.html Interviews with the victims, as well as the perpetrators of violence, indicate that the violence in the Rift Valley, was well organized in advance by Kalenjin elders and leaders. In fact, even before the first vote was cast, a total of 70 people had already died, many in opposition strongholds occupied by Kalenjins. This was clearly a harbinger of things to come. In this interview by the BBC carried out in Eldoret, Kalenjin fighters who clearly regret killing Kikuyus, said that they were asked to kill Kikuyus by their leaders:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediaselector/ondemand/worldservice/meta/tx/assig nment?bgc=003399&nbram=1&lang=enws&nbwm=1&ms3=6&ms_javascript=true&bbcws=1&size=au&ls=p1315 Ruto’s response to these accusations is that he is an undeserved target of lies by the human rights commission, forcing the commission to defend itself thus: "We are not biased because our job is to hold the political class accountable no matter who they are," Kiai said. http://www.eastandard.net/news/?id=1143979070 His party, the ODM, has gone a step further to muddle the debate to confuse the issue of ethnic cleansing with the sort of violence that might occur in any government in the course of maintaining law and order. In a pre-emptive move, ODM took the government to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. See: http://www.radionetherlands.nl/news/international/5610484/Kenyanopposition-take-government-to-ICC. ODM charges centered on deaths that occurred in the process of restoring calm following the violent demonstrations called by ODM. Here, the Opposition party is trying to cast the government in the same mold as Charles Taylor and Slobodan Milosevic. However, it is unlikely that the charges will hold given that Kenyan police have largely acted professionally under extreme provocation, with reports of police trucks being searched by Kalenjin mobs in illegal road blocks. The deaths that occurred at the hands of the police mainly took place in the thick of street battles as the Kenyan police were trying to restore calm after opposition supporters engaged in violence, mayhem, disruption, looting, rape, and murder. It is noteworthy that before violence broke out, Kenyan police had no history of mass murder of opposition supporters. There have been accusations that police killed members of Mungiki, but this controversial group is not part of the opposition although its mondus operandi resembles that of the opposition supporters – indiscriminate violence against innocent people. So far, close to 1000 people have been killed in the post election violence. Of this number, the police have killed less than 100 people. Another 90 or so were killed in revenge attacks in Naivasha and Nakuru. This means that the bulk of the victims have died at the hands of ODM, many at the hands of gangs in William Ruto’s home area. Unfortunately, William Ruto was amongst the very last national leader to call for peace. So far, he has not gone to Kalenjin areas to confront mobs and to ask for calm. In comparison, Uhuru, Jirongo, Nguyai, Gumo, Karua, Kilimo, Muthama, Wekesa, Ombui, and others have gone to the streets to reason with mobs and their appeal has been headed. Ruto and other MPs maintain that

they cannot face their constituents without the presidential vote dispute being solved first. In other words, they are using violence as a bargaining tool. Amidst the violence and cries for it to be halted, Ruto’s silence is louder than that of ODM supporters who shout “No Raila, No Peace,” betraying their resolve to install Raila to power by force, regardless of whether he won or not. Some of the violence is being waged in Ruto’s name. When raiders went to the home of Mr. Ken Matara, they burned his house because some members of his Kisii community people had attacked Ruto in South Mugirango constituency. http://allafrica.com/stories/200801200076.html The question therefore lingers: Is Kenya entrusting a leopard to look after the sheep?