PROFILE: Who is William Samoei Ruto?

PROFILE: Who is William Samoei Ruto?

It is a moment 30 years in the making. From cutting his teeth in Kenya’s single party politics to rising to Kenya’s first Deputy President under the 2010 Constitution, William Samoei Ruto has really only ever known a life in politics.

Officially cleared by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission on Saturday, the Deputy President now takes  to the homestretch his quest to become the fifth President of the Republic of Kenya.

He hails from the north of the vast Rift Valley region and is arguably Kamagut’s most famous son.

Ruto was born in the small village located in Uasin Gishu County on  December 21, 1966.

He schooled at Wareng Secondary School and Kapsabet Boys High School before pursuing a degree in Botany and Zoology at the University of Nairobi. He would later earn his PhD in the same field from UoN in 2018.

But Ruto would start out as a teacher in the North Rift region in 1990 where he was also the leader of the choir at the local African Inland Church (AIC) .

The year 1992 would be a pivotal year for him when he became treasurer of the Youth for Kanu YK92 a campaign group that lobbied for President Daniel arap Moi’s re-election.

Five years later in 1997, Ruto tried his hand at the Eldoret North parliamentary seat.

It was a gamble that paid off when he beat the incumbent MP Rueben Chesire.

Attracting the attention of the Professor of politics, Ruto was appointed by Moi himself to become KANU’s director of elections in 1998.

In 2002, Ruto was part of the team that worked on propelling Uhuru Kenyatta on to the national political scene to succeed Moi.

The Kanu camp would however suffer a bruising defeat to the Narc Coalition, whose candidate Mwai Kibaki took office as Kenya’s third president.

Ruto kept rising through the ranks, reaching KANU’s top brass when he was elected Secretary General in 2005.

This was not enough for Ruto, who wanted to gain more political capital. A year later in 2006, he declared he would vie for the president and crossed over to ODM to fight for the ticket. He came third after Mudavadi and Raila who clinched the party ticket.

He would however contest the MP seat for Eldoret North once again and win. Ruto was instrumental in helping Raila clinch a majority of Rift Valley seats for their  ODM Party.

The 2007 General Election then turned out to be Kenya’s most violent.


Ruto was among six prominent government and political leaders linked to the violence and indicted by the International Criminal Court in 2013 for crimes against humanity. His co-accused included President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The ICC would eventually terminate the charges against him in 2016.

Under the grand coalition government he became a minister for Agriculture and later appointed minister for Higher Education.

That same year however, he was relieved of his duties as minister over allegations of corruption.

The then Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission accused Ruto of allegedly receiving Ksh.96 million, being proceeds accruing from the illegal sale of land belonging to the Ministry of Environment. 

He was also implicated in the maize scandal while serving as Minister for Agriculture in 2009.

Ruto was accused of illegally selling maize from the country's strategic grain reserves. He however survived a vote of no confidence.

He claimed the charges were politically motivated and decamped from the ODM party to the United Republican Party in 2011.

A turning point in his political career came in 2012 when he teamed up with Uhuru Kenyatta to form a Coalition with The National Alliance Party (TNA).

It won them the 2013 General Election despite the cloud of the ICC hanging over their heads. But they would be cleared three years later.

In 2016 the Jubilee Alliance Party was formed under the slogan Tuko Pamoja.

The pair would go on to be reelected in 2017 against a backdrop of a cloud of controversy that included the nullification of results of the first round and a rerun boycotted by the opposition.


Following a political truce in the form of a handshake between President Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga, Ruto would become more and more isolated.

The rift would grow after the Building Bridges Initiative picked up pace and the two eventually fell out.

Last year Ruto declared his affiliation to the United Democratic Alliance UDA, a party he would eventually convert to be his political vehicle to vie for President.


On the family front, Ruto is  married to Rachel Ruto and he is a father of seven children.

Among his many business ventures, is his poultry farm in his rural Sugoi home.

Ruto has styled himself as the candidate of those he calls ‘hustlers’, in what is seen as a move to woo the regular masses to back his bid to become the next president of the Republic of Kenya.


William Ruto Bomas

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