Kanu fights to defend clout in restless West Pokot turf

Governor Simon Kachapin

Politics in West Pokot County continues to hot up as Governor Simon Kachapin and Senator John Lonyangapuo engage in supremacy battles ahead of the 2017 elections.

Political bigwigs in Jubilee led by Deputy President William Ruto are plotting a win of votes in a county considered a Kanu stronghold.

Mr Kachapin’s decision to ditch Kanu in July and join the soon to be launched Jubilee Party has seen the former ruling party leaders work round the clock to mark their territory.

Mr Lonyangapuo of Kanu is seeking to unseat the Governor, a former ally. Interestingly, in previous elections, the two were political allies and worked together to clinch their current seats on a Kanu ticket.

West Pokot has been a predominantly a Kanu zone but Ruto has recently made forays into the area to convince local leaders to embrace Jubilee Party.

But on its part, Kanu has maintained that it will remain independent and has no intention of folding to join Jubilee Party.

Major boost

Kanu got a major boost a few weeks ago after former Information and Communications Minister Samuel Poghisio joined it after ditching Jubilee and now hopes to run for the Senatorial seat on its ticket.

Speaking in Tangulbei, Baringo County, Lonyangapuo who led a high-powered political delegation for a fundraiser in Tiaty introduced Mr Poghisio, the former Kacheliba MP as his replacement.

Poghisio who is the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority chairman, vied for the West Pokot Senate seat in 2013 under United Republican Party but lost to Lonyangapuo.

“This is the victorious line up, I will trounce Kachapin while our brother Poghisio who has accepted to support us in Kanu is well equipped to take over from me,’’’ said Lonyangapuo.

Kachapin enjoys support from Members of Parliament and local leaders in the region and is banking on this support and his development track record to retain his seat.

“I know there are many people admiring my seat but my development record will help me retain my seat come next elections,” Kachapin said.

The Governor has the backing of Regina Nyeris (Women Representatitive), Samuel Moroto (Kapenguria), David Pkosing (Pokot South), Philip Rotino (Sigor) and a significant number of Members of County Assembly.

“The Government has initiated many development projects and I am ready to work with the government to ensure that this place is no longer marginalised,” he said.

Despite the political movements, Kanu is confident that the County is still its strong hold and is sure of a strong win come next year.

Lonyangapuo has warned leaders who ditched the party for Jubilee that they will face the wrath of voters come the 2017 General Elections. He has also dismissed his critics.

“I was rated the best performing senator in 2014 with a 63 per cent approval ratings. So how can the Senator number one in the country mislead his electorate?” Lonyangapuo was quoted saying recently.

Meanwhile, Kanu leaders have accused the DP of intimidating local leaders into joining the Jubilee bandwagon despite the strong support the former ruling party enjoys from residents.

Jubilee has been accused of targeting long-serving leaders from the county who are still Kanu members. Local leaders are of the view that even though Jubilee and the DP have a right to seek political support in the semi-arid county, they should not undermine leaders from the region.