By Vitalis Kimutai
With less than five months to the next General Election, the fight for Narok County senator’s seat promises to be a tough one, with sibling rivalry playing out.
Kenya’s former Ambassador to China Julius Sunkuli and his younger brother Andrew, a businessman, have declared they will face-off in contest to clinch the seat. The other contestant is former Tourism Minister Stephen ole Ntutu.
The three are members of the Maa community and their battlefront has shifted to wooing members of the other communities in the county.
Kipsigis, a Kalenjin sub-tribe are the most populous in the area and are expected to provide the swing vote in the election.
Already one constituency, Dikir, has been created for the Kalenjins in Narok following years of rivalry between the communities which at times have turned into a full scale violence with non-natives being barred from contesting leadership positions.
Members of the Kisii and Kikuyu communities are among those doing business in Narok town and are also being sought after by the candidates.
As a result of the sibling rivalry between the Sunkulis, elders and family members recently prevailed upon Julius to step down in favour of Andrew in the race but his supporters urged him to forge ahead.
Julius, a former Kanu secretary-general, resigned his diplomatic posting to venture into politics and has since joined ODM ending months of speculation on his party of choice.
Julius, who was at the weekend received by Premier Raila Odinga to ODM in Kilgoris, said he had what it takes to clinch the senator’s seat and has a wealth of experience in leadership having been Kilgoris MP for 10 years.
“I will use my connections in the international arena to invite industrialists to explore business opportunities in Narok and create employment for youths and market for farm produce,” he said.
Andrew, speaking during a meeting at Ntulele trading centre in Narok North, regretted the county lagged behind in development despite being a world tourist destination.
“We are endowed with historic tourist sites including the Maasai Mara, the Mau Complex and a rich culture of the people, which unfortunately we have not exploited to the benefit the people,” Andrew said.
Andrew, a publisher, said the county is agriculturally endowed, has precious stones and a human resource that needs to be harnessed towards developing the region so it can compete with others as economic hub.
“Divisive politics and clan rivalries have been an impediment to development in Maasailand and the Constitution gives the community a chance to unite and push for a sound development agenda,” Andrew said.
He called on region’s professionals and traders to unite to make Narok an ideal destination not only for tourists but for business to flourish.
The chairman of the Maasai Council of Elders Mzee Kasaina ole Esho said clan rivalry would not be an issue in the election as the people are more enlightened than before.
“The Maasais want a leader who will unite them, roll out development projects and advocate for their rights besides conserving our rich heritage as a people,” said Esho, who has declared support for Andrew.
Ntutu on the other hand called on residents to elect credible elders with sound development track record.
“It is important that voters interrogate leaders and hold them to account for the time they have been in public service while new entrants should lay out their contribution towards changing the standards of living for the people,” Ntutu said.
Andrew has kept people guessing as to the choice of political party with indications he may join URP or UDF.
Ntutu, a former Narok South MP is a URP member and was elected a delegate in recent grassroots election.
It also remains to be seen whether the candidate who will secure the support of the self-proclaimed Maasai community leader, Heritage minister William ole Ntimama will carry the day in the election or not.