Rebel URP leaders defiant despite by-election loss, vow to soldier on

Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi

Rebel URP MPs have brushed aside their defeat in the Kericho by-election and said they would press on with their demands to have the Jubilee government do more to improve the welfare of their people.

“We will remain firm in demanding for better services. We cannot say we are one when the electorate is not benefiting,” Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi said.

The MP, who says he has nothing against the URP leadership led by Deputy President William Ruto,  listed some of the grievances that had put the ruling coalition at odds with the local people.

“We demanded Sh10 billion for the purchase of maize from farmers by the Strategic Grain Reserves but the government allocated only Sh2.7 billion,” he said.

 Sudi,  previously a Ruto ally, surprised many last month when he launched a scathing attack on the Jubilee government and joined the Kanu campaign to drum up support for Paul Sang in his battle against JAP’s Aaron Cheruiyot, the eventual winner in the Kericho senetorial  by-election.

The leaders said the Kericho outcome should not be used as a political barometer to determine the level of support the Deputy President enjoys in the region.

Nandi Hills Alfred Keter, perhaps the most vocal of the rebels, said they would continue to hold the Jubilee government to account despite the polls setback.

“We will stand our ground and soldier on for the interest of Kenyans. The loss in Kericho re-energised us. We have the citizens’ interest at heart and we will demand the fulfilment of all promises made ahead of the 2013 General Election,” said Keter.

Region’s unity

Complaints over low tea and milk prices, the two agricultural products that drive the region’s economy, have diminished the ruling coalition’s popularity in the region.

Last week, the DP’s allies asked leaders to put aside their differences and work to unify the region, which has been the bedrock of URP’s support. “We are ready to to sit and address all the issues raised in Kericho. Let us all come together and not look foolish   through infighting,” said Chepalungu MP Paul Savimbi.

His United Republican Party colleagues Sammy Barchilei (Soi) Cornelius Serem (Aldai) and Cecilia Ng’etich (Bomet County) asked the rebels and work with the establishment and foster Kalenjin unity ahead of the 2017 General Election.

Chesumei MP Elijah Lagat, an ally of the DP,  said that Jubilee would have to work much harder to consolidate its grip on  the region.

“Jubilee got 98 per cent of the vote in the Rift Valley in 2013, but the outcome of the Kericho polls shows that its supporters are now about 60 per cent of  the electorate,” said Mr Lagat.

 The rebels said Jubilee’s muted celebrations after its by-election could be a reflection that it was  not certain it had won because the elections were rigged in its favour.

The next battleground between the two protagonists will be the  Ngechek/Lelmokwo ward by-election in Nandi County.

Some groups are already canvassing for support even before the seat is officially declared vacant following the recent death of   Member of County Assembly (MCA) and Deputy Speaker Nandi Hesbon Metto.