As the world mourns the loss of former Tanzania President William Mkapa,Kenyans will remember him as the man who helped birth the 2008 grand coalition government in their country.
However,as Mkapa would later reveal,the process of bringing the two warring factions (ODM and PNU) to a decision was not easy due to grandstanding by political lieutenants of both the then Kenyan incumbent Mwai Kibaki and the opposition’s Raila Odinga.
The hard line stance was mostly exhibited by the current Kenyan Deputy President,William Ruto,a key Odinga-ally then.
As the nation was burning after the disputed 2007-2008 General Elections, Kenyans of goodwill and the International community beseeched on the warring factions to sit down, talk and make peace. The talks nearly collapsed due to William Ruto’s attempt to hijack the process for personal gain.
In his book, “My life, My purpose: A Tanzanian president Remembers” , the departed former President describes William Ruto as a power hungry, tribal, corrupt , untrustworthy and a dangerous warlord, who gave absurd conditions that threatened peace, businesses and lives of the Kikuyu, Kamba & Kisii communities and escalated violence in 2007/2008 post-election violence
According to President Mkapa, Ruto gave the following conditions during the famous ‘Serena’ talks;
- Immediate “return” of all Kalenjin lands, occupied by “outsiders”.
- Arrest and prosecution of President Kibaki and his Kitchen Cabinet, majorly from Mt.Kenya, by the International Community, before the International Criminal Court.
- NON compensation/restitution of the victims of violence who had lost their businesses, land and other assets.
- A free hand by Kalenjins to forcefully acquire the huge tracks of land owned by non-Kalenjins.
- That the PrimeMinister’s post MUST be given to him(William Ruto), before any other negotiations, as he had been lined up by the 2007 ODM power structure to be the Executive Prime Minister.
President Mkapa then wondered whose interest Ruto was advancing – “It was now clear that William Ruto had lost focus, direction and objective of the negotiations, as he flatly shifted from representing the interests of H.E The Rt.Hon. Raila Odinga, the interests of ODM and the interests of ODM followers nationally, to his own personal interests, hatred, bile and vendetta against the Kikuyu community and Moi family”.
According to Mkapa,it was only after Kicking Ruto from the talks that any meaningful development was made and the country was salvaged via a grand-coalition arrangement.