But a close ally of the Deputy President, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed “there was a problem with some payments” but said Dr Ruto had already taken up the matter with Mr Mbugua and Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich since the office has no separate budget.

According to the 2018/2019 government estimates published by the Treasury, the DP's office was allocated Sh880 million, lumped together with the larger budget allocated to the presidency.

Mr Mbugua, the State House Comptroller, did not respond to our requests for a comment.

Dr Ruto travelled to London earlier in the week and gave a speech at Chatham House on Friday. However, he was recalled to take charge as the President left for the African Union Summit in Ethiopia.

In what may change the course of the referendum debate, the DP in his address at the Chatham House proposed the creation of the office of official opposition, making the Senate an upper House, having CSs who are also ex officio MPs and allowing the DP to lead government business in Parliament. He left no misgivings that he would oppose the return of prime minister’s position.

His proposal not only sets tone for the debate on changing the supreme laws but also thrusts him on collision path with the faction led by President Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga who seem to favour the creation of a powerful premier’s position.

PROVOCATION

“I have heard suggestions — some even by opposition leaders — that the National Executive should be expanded to accommodate a prime minister as well as two deputies as a means of addressing the winner take it all challenge. This suggestion has two problems: It does not solve the problem which is that we need a functional, constitutional official opposition and the positions, if created would still be taken by the winning party,” the DP argued.

Soi MP Caleb Kositany, who also doubles as Jubilee deputy secretary-general sought to downplay the issue.

“I don’t think there is a calculated move to cut the money flow to DP’s office. Even MPs are yet to receive CDF (National Government Constituency Development Fund) money seven months into the government financial year. They have only managed to send Sh10 million per constituency (as opposed to about Sh100 million). It can be a bigger problem in government on money flows and it is not necessarily in the presidency,” he said.

Unhappy in the manner some people around the President have treated Dr Ruto, some of the deputy president’s allies are threatening to take the battle to Parliament, which resumes on Tuesday.

One of the most vocal critics of the deputy president has been former Jubilee vice-chairman David Murathe, who has vowed to lead efforts to block Dr Ruto from succeeding President Kenyatta.

Dr Ruto has in several meetings told his key lieutenants not to take on those attacking him head-on but to downplay any provocation.

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