Uhuru and Saitoti Once Almost Exchanged Blows at State House

  • Image showing Kalonzo Musyoka (centre), Professor George Saitoti (left) and Uhuru Kenyatta (r) at a past briefing Daily Nation
  • Former Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Member of Parliament (MP) for Kajiado North Constituency-John Keen once gave a detailed narration of a day that almost culminated in a fist fight between President Uhuru Kenyatta and the late Professor George Saitoti at State House.

    The Uhuru-Saitoti feud was an open secret ever since Uhuru (the official opposition leader under KANU's flag) fielded a candidate to rival Saitoti for the Kajiado North parliamentary seat and openly supported ODM candidate for the same seat-Moses ole Sakuda.

    On his part, Saitoti reportedly generally despised Uhuru after the young and unproven politician was handpicked as the KANU presidential candidate during the 2002 General Election ahead of him, despite having served as former President Daniel Arap Moi's deputy for over 10 years.

    Image of Uhuru Kenyatta alongside George Saitoti at a past event

    Their frail relationship reportedly reached boiling point back in 2007 after Saitoti caught wind that Kibaki was planning to endorse Uhuru's run for the top seat once his term was over.

    This led Saitoti to partner up with Raila Odinga in a bid to wipe away any chance Uhuru had at inheriting the house on the hill.

    Tensions eventually flared after Uhuru was named among the six suspects summoned by the ICC chief prosecutor- Luis Moreno-Ocampo, over suspected links to the 2007/2008 post-election violence.

    According to Mr Keen, Ocampo had written to the Kenyan government to announce he would be willing to drop the cases if given assurances that the cases would be handled locally, but the letter disappeared mystically and never found its way to President Kibaki's desk.

    However, the former head of state soon got word of the letter's existence and duly summoned the Cabinet inter-ministerial committee on ICC, which was headed by Professor Saitoti and Uhuru, who was serving as a deputy Prime Minister to State House.

    Mr Kibaki then went on to order that the committee liaise with the ICC in order to have the cases tried locally as was proposed in the missing letter.

    It was at this point that an angry Uhuru reportedly confronted Prof Saitoti, accusing him of working behind the scenes by hiding the letter in a bid to push for the cases to be heard at the ICC headquarters in Hague.

    A high tempered engagement ensued to a point where the two almost traded punches, prompting Kibaki to call the meeting to an abrupt end, the committee reportedly never met again.

    Former president Mwai Kibaki (c) and Professor George Saitoti pictured alongside other dignitaries at a past event