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Atwoli: Ruto will hand over my file to the next president

Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) secretary general, Francis Atwoli, says his influence will play a significant role in determining President William Ruto’s successor.

According to Mr Atwoli, the longest-serving general secretary in the country’s labour movement, no head of state has ever underestimated his influence.

The vocal 74-year-old labour ambassador took over the role in 2001 and boasted of having worked alongside the first president, the late Mzee Jomo Kenyatta.

He recounted how he also worked alongside the regimes of the late President Daniel Arap Moi and the late Mwai Kibaki, both of whom recognised his contribution to the country’s growth.

“Each of them handed over my file to their successor, which was also handed over to President Ruto’s predecessor, Uhuru Kenyatta,” he explained.

In a video, Mr Atwoli is heard saying that he has worked with every Kenyan president and that Dr Ruto’s successor will also have his file.

He was apparently speaking at an event attended by President Ruto.

“I will be around for many years and that is why I will help you,” he said, referring to President Ruto. “I have a history; I worked with Mzee Jomo Kenyatta. I wrote something in 1981 talking about women as young union leaders. I worked with Mzee Moi for 24 years; he then gave my file to Kibaki, who then gave it to Uhuru Kenyatta and Kenyatta gave it to William Samoei Ruto,” said Mr Atwoli.

He expressed confidence that after Dr Ruto completes his term, he will also have the privilege of working with his successor.

President Ruto is serving his first term since assuming office in 2022. Mr Atwoli said his leadership in the trade union had helped shape Kenya’s political landscape.

“Ruto is waiting to hand over my file to the next president. I will be with you for some time to assist your leaders in protecting our image, our region, and our people,” he affirmed.

Atwoli has also been General Secretary of the Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU) since 1994.

Internationally, he serves workers as a titular member of the Governing Body of the International Labour Organisation, President of the Organisation of African Trade Union Unity (OATUU), and Vice-President of the International Trade Union Confederation.

As Kenya’s longest-serving Cotu general secretary, his critics have called for him to step down and pave the way for new leadership.

But Mr Atwoli says he is being re-elected because of his outstanding record in defending workers’ rights in the country.

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