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Jubilee changes tactic in Kericho after Bomet loss

By Nikko Tanui | February 15th 2016

Stung by defeat in Bomet County, Jubilee is working on two strategies it hopes will help ensure victory in Kericho.

The governing coalition has tasked area leaders to accompany Jubilee Party (JP) candidate Aaron Cheruiyot during campaigns but also have him go out on his own to shake off the tag of being a "project".

On Friday, Jubilee lost the Nyangores ward seat to Andrew Maritim of the People's Patriotic Party of Kenya - a party linked to Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto - putting pressure on JP to win the Kericho Senate seat to counter the emerging narrative of a protest vote against Jubilee in South Rift.

But in Kericho, Jubilee's candidate faces stiff competition from Kanu's Paul Sang, a former Health minister.

Others in the race are former Kipkelion MP Daniel Tanui (National Vision Party), Wyclef Ngeno (Maendeleo Democratic Party) and Paul Sigei (United Democratic Movement).

The Jubilee camp has tasked Ainamoi MP Benjamin Langat to lead fellow MPs, Joseph Limo (Kipkelion East), Leonard Sang (Bureti), Jackson Rop (Kipkelion West) and Justice Kemei (Soin Sigowet) in campaigning in their respective constituencies for Cheruiyot.

"This allows such Members of Parliament and the ward representatives to smoothly campaign for the JP candidate in others areas as it saves the leaders from facing resistance or embarrassing situations in their own backyards," said a senior Jubilee leader.

In the other approach, Mr Cheruiyot and his team will traverse the county on their own.

"This allows, the Jubilee candidate to interact with the residents and sell his bid as his own man," said Kisii University Kericho campus political science lecturer Joel Soi.

And Kanu is banking on renewed support in the South Rift for its candidate, with party Secretary General Nick Salat saying the party will conduct grassroot campaigns throughout the county.

Among the issues that will define the political campaigns are skewed distribution development projects, poor tea prices and unemployment.

Mr Sang is banking on support from Kanu Chairman and Baringo Senator Gideon Moi, West Pokot Senator John Longanyapuo, Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto, MPs Alfred Keter (Nandi Hills) and Johanna Ngeno (Emurua Dikirr).

Mr Ngeno said the tide has changed for Jubilee in South Rift after it neglected the region in the roll out of development projects.

During his campaign at Moi Gardens, Sang subtly referred to Cheruiyot as a political project.

"As for me, I am my own man and anything I intend to accomplish for Kericho residents comes from my heart and I will stand with them at all times," he said.

 The seat was left vacant after Charles Keter was appointed to Cabinet.

The Energy Cabinet secretary has in the recent days campaigned for Cheruiyot, 31, in the villages and away from the media glare.

This is after Sang and Mr Tanui protested over the CS's getting involved in politics contrary to the law. They petitioned President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto to take action against him.

Mr Keter recently held a closed-door meeting with area MPs and MCAs – the second in two months.

"We are continuing to work as a team to ensure that Jubilee retains the Kericho senatorial seat. We have assigned ourselves various responsibilities in the campaign to support our candidate Cheruiyot. The campaign will be very vibrant and we are going to campaign in every village and ward," Keter said after the meeting.

The Jubilee brigade will also be hoping to ride on Cheruiyot's youthfulness. Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen took advantage of the candidate's name to liken him to the biblical Aaron who led the children of Israel to Canaan.

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