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Is this end of the road for senior Rift politicians?

By NIKKO TANUI AND JACOB NGETICH | Published Sun, June 18th 2017 at 00:00, Updated June 17th 2017 at 23:53 GMT +3

The future of senior politicians in Rift Valley is in limbo following the bitterly contested party primaries two months ago.

Veteran politicians from the vast region like former ministers Henry Kosgey, Franklin Bett, Hellen Sambili and Musa Sirma were trounced in Jubilee primaries, putting them at cross roads and an uncertain political future.

Kosgey, the 69-year old former Industrialisation Minister who was eyeing the Nandi governor’s seat, lost to his political nemesis and current senator Stephen Sang. With the loss went his chance for a political comeback.

Second time

It was not the first time Kosgey conceded defeat to Sang. He had also lost to the senator in the 2013 race for the Nandi senatorial seat.

An almost similar scenario followed former Roads Minister Franklin Bett, who lost his senatorial bid to incumbent Aaron Cheruiyot. Like Kosgey in Nandi, Bett had also lost to Cheruiyot in the Jubilee Party primaries that preceded the March 2016 Kericho senatorial by-election occasioned by appointment of then area Senator Charles Keter as Energy Cabinet Secretary.

The former State House Comptroller and Bureti MP had also lost his bid for Kericho governor in 2013 to incumbent Paul Chepkwony.

But after this year’s primaries, 64-year-old Bett called time on his political career.

“My political supporters have been urging me to continue playing an active role in politics, but due to my advanced age, I no longer see the need to contest elective positions,” he said.

Political hiatus

Bett is not the only Kericho senate primaries loser to quit politics. Former National Housing Corporation (NHC) chairman Sammy Chepkwony who also lost to senator Cheruiyot for a second time at the primaries, said he had taken a brief political hiatus until 2022.

“There are many ongoing political developments and realignments. My focus at the moment is to campaign for President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto,” he said.

Another Kericho politician licking his wounds is former Kipkelion MP and ODM Executive Director Magerer Lang’at, who has to bear with political cold for the next five years.

The ground moved from within the former MP’s feet when he decided to defend his seat in 2013 on an ODM ticket against the Jubilee wave that swept the vast rift Valley region. In that year’s election, Magerer was beaten by URP’s Jackson Rop.

Political comeback

Upon defeat, Lang’at was appointed ODM’s executive director, only to be hounded out of the party in 2014.

The former Kipkelion MP ate a humble pie and joined Jubilee Party, where he was beaten by Senator Cheruiyot in party primaries for the Kericho senate by-election.

He then opposed Jubilee by supporting Kanu’s Paul Sang in the by-election, only to be beaten in the primaries for the Kipkellion Jubilee ticket alongside MP Rop by former Kenya Bureau of Standards Director Hillary Koskei.

“I accept the fact that there can never be two winners in an election. That is why I had a mutual agreement with Mr Koskei, who is a long-time friend, that whoever would win the Jubilee primaries would be support the other,” he said during Madaraka Day celebrations.

In Baringo, efforts by Sirma to make a political comeback were thwarted when he lost the Eldama Ravine parliamentary primaries.

In neighbouring Mogotio constituency, incumbent MP Prof Sambili, 58, lost her seat to Dr Daniel Tuitoek, an engineering lecturer at Egerton University.

Sambili had decamped from Kanu to Jubilee ahead of the primaries.


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