President Kenyatta: I was labeled a “watermelon” for consulting Ruto

UHURU KENYATTA PHOTO/COURTESY

President Uhuru Kenyatta has revealed that he was branded a “watermelon” by sections of Kenyan leadership when he consulted Deputy President William Ruto during the 2010 Constitutional Referendum.

DP William Ruto – the then agriculture minister – was opposing the draft of the new constitution.

He said that it was not reflecting the wishes of Kenyans and he vowed to remain steadfast in his pushing to have the document rejected.

Spearheading the “No” campaigns against the 2010 Constitution, Ruto argued the president still enjoyed excessive powers under the draft constitution and the clause on maximum and minimum land an individual should own was not good for a capitalist country like Kenya.

He further argued that the draft constitution did not address the interests of majority of Kenyans as it failed to create room for proper devolution that will guarantee equitable distribution of resources to the grassroots level.

President Uhuru Kenyatta – the then Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Kenya – approved of the Constitution and traversed the country campaigning for its adoption under the “Yes” camp.

However, when he communicated with Ruto trying to understand why Ruto took steadfast stand on the opposing camp, the Head of State got a name christened on him – a watermelon.

“I can recall in 2010 my friend William Ruto was traversing the country urging Kenyans to reject the constitution. He wanted some sections of the constitution to be amended before it could be fully adopted.

“So, in the evening he would call me and urge me to shift to his camp. At that time I was trying to see how best we could integrate the citizenry. And some sections immediately branded me a ‘watermelon’. They said during the day I campaigned for the constitution to be adopted, and during the night I wanted it to be rejected,” Uhuru told a gathering at Afraha Stadium Wednesday, June 1.

“When the name-calling was getting too much, I stood my ground and campaigned for the constitution to be passed,” Uhuru said, adding: “Ruto conceded defeat and he integrated with the rest of Kenyans.”

The president used that example to illustrate what democracy means.

The 2010 Constitution of Kenya, currently in force, replaced the 1969 constitution, that itself had replaced the 1963 independence constitution.

The constitution was presented to the Attorney General of Kenya on April 7 2010, officially published on 6 May 2010, and was subjected to a referendum onAugust 4 2010.

The new Constitution was approved by 67 percent of Kenyan voters. The constitution was promulgated on August 27 2010.

Watch Uhuru’s remarks on Ruto’s campaign for “No” team in the 2010 Constitutional Referendum:

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