By Beautah Omanga and Vitalis Kimutai
Mr Ruto, who delivered a substantial number of votes from the region to Raila in 2007 elections, and Raila who this week got a boost through the support of Roads minister Franklin Bett and Tinderet MP and ODM chairman Henry Kosgey, have given the region special attention.
While Ruto wound up his weeklong tour of the Rift Valley on Tuesday, Raila goes back to the region this weekend. The PM’s campaign team said the programme for the Rift Valley tour would be released on Wednesday.
Raila is seeking to prove he still has a foothold in the region, while Ruto is out to prove he is the one calling the shots.
Raila spent last weekend at a retreat in Kajiado with his presidential election secretariat and members of the ‘ODM Reloaded’ team where they drew up a campaign roadmap.
Ruto pitched camp in Rift Valley since last week, focusing on five counties as he sought to consolidate support in his backyard. This came after Kosgey and Bett appeared to give credence to claims Ruto has not locked out the PM from the region.
Ruto led a group of MPs allied to his United Republican Party in touring Rift Valley, using two helicopters. The declaration at every point was that they were united and claims of planned defections by some of the MPs were the creation of URP detractors.
The Ruto team addressed rallies in Pokot, Keiyo-Marakwet, Kericho, Baringo, Bomet, Nandi, and Uasin Gishu counties. He also met leaders in several divisional headquarters.
In URP, Chepalungu MP Isaac Ruto, Luka Kigen (Rongai), Charles Keter (Belgut), Moses Lessonet (Eldama Ravine), Sammy Mwaita (Baringo Central), and Zakayo Cheruiyot (Kuresoi), have denied they were considering leaving the party.
The party leadership has also clarified that no one would benefit from direct nominations, as the process has to be open, inclusive, and competitive.
Ruto and URP Chairman Francis ole Kaparo said all aspirants for the various elective positions would have to face free and fair nominations.