Speaking on the Amanpour show in an exclusive interview on Wednesday, Ruto said he has already reached out to his electoral rival Raila Odinga and said he would build alliances that will help bring the country together.
“The administration I will head will be an administration that will serve all Kenyans equally, regardless of whether they voted for us or not,” said Ruto, whose victory was confirmed Monday by a Supreme Court ruling.
Ruto, 55, won with 50.49% of the vote against Odinga’s 48.85% in last month’s elections, which ended quietly despite the recent history of political violence in Kenya, including the killing of nearly 1,500 people in the aftermath of the December 2007 elections.
When asked about the peaceful, Ruto said that the situation has improved since 2007 and the next elections will be even better.
“I think it speaks to the heart of the maturity of our country’s democracy,” he said. “No citizen, no leader wants their country to be famous for violence.”
“We can go to the elections, we can decide who our leaders are and the next day we can go back to work,” he added. “This is the standard we have raised for ourselves as a Kenyan people, I am very proud of it.”
Amanpour later asked if outgoing president Uhuru Kenyatta, who supported Odinga’s electoral candidacy despite Ruto being his vice president, had been in contact after the election.
“Unfortunately, President Kenyatta did not see fit to congratulate me,” he said. “Maybe he’s a little disillusioned or maybe he’s unhappy that I defeated his candidate, but that’s the nature of politics.”
‘Big change’ in foreign policy
Among those who contacted Ruto are a number of world leaders, and he says he told them not to expect “a big change” in Kenya’s foreign policy.
“I intend to increase Kenya’s participation in many areas, especially in our regional peace initiatives,” said Ruto.
“I will be available, I will do my part, I will increase Kenya’s position and contribution in that space so that together we can contribute to a better and much more peaceful neighborhood.”
Among these challenges is Somalia, with longstanding security concerns and now looming famine.
“Somalia is a difficult bone to crack,” said Ruto, who said he had worked with the country’s newly elected president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud in the past.
“We look forward to working with him and the international community so that we can address the challenges in Somalia and allow Somalia to address its own security concerns,” said Ruto.
No “blame game” on the grain block
Humanitarian issues are also on the agenda, and Ruto told Amanpour he will work for a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Ukraine in order to allow more grain shipments from the country to reach East Africa.
Ruto plans to increase grain production locally and regionally, he said, refusing to point the finger at Moscow for the shortage.
“I don’t think the blame game would help in that equation,” he said.
Amanpour later questioned Ruto about human rights, particularly his earlier comments that “there was no room” for homosexuality in Kenyan society.
“I am very clear that we respect everyone and what they believe in, but we also have what we believe in and expect to be respected for what we believe in,” said Ruto, who said he does not think LGBTQ rights are an argument. important for Kenyans.
“We don’t want to make a mountain out of a pile of moles,” he said, adding that he prefers to focus his efforts on unemployment and hunger. “When it becomes a big problem for the Kenyan people, the Kenyan people will make a choice.”
Same-sex relationships have been banned since the British colonized Kenya in the late 19th century. The Penal Code of Kenya criminalizes “carnal knowledge against the order of nature”. Anyone found involved in same-sex relationships could face up to 14 years in prison.
Amanpour also insisted Ruto on his controversial promise to deport the Chinese from Kenya, but the president-elect claimed he was taken out of context.
He was referring to the Chinese who work without permission, Ruto said.
“Everyone will do business, everyone will do what they want, as long as they do it within the law,” he said.
“Anyone who operates outside the law, no matter where they come from, will be sent back where they came from.”