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Uhuru, Raila scramble for Maa vote

POLITICS
By Kiprotich Chepkoit | August 14th 2016

 

PHOTO: COURTESY

President Uhuru Kenyatta and allies in Jubilee have stepped up the hunt for the Maa vote as disgruntled leaders led by Joseph Tiampati quickly moved to welcome CORD co-principal Raila Odinga in the region.

Narok North MP Moitalel ole Kenta, who snubbed an event graced by Uhuru on Friday, has been very critical of the government as both Jubilee and CORD scramble for the region in a race for numbers to bag the 50 per cent plus one vote in the first round of the 2017 elections.

The scramble for the Maasai vote by Jubilee and CORD has begun in earnest ahead of the next General

Election.

On Wednesday CORD leader Raila Odinga met some community leaders barely a day after a group from Narok County met President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House, Nairobi.

On Friday President Kenyatta was in Rotian, Narok North, for the homecoming of newly appointed Geothermal Development Corporation CEO Johnson ole Nchoe.

Kenyatta used the opportunity to reconcile warring Narok County leaders Senator Stephen ole Ntutu and Governor Samuel Ole Tunai and urged them to work together and unite the people.

The bid to woo the Maasai comes after President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto announced the formation of Jubilee Party whose ticket they will use for their re-election bid in 2017.

Political analyst Dr Philip Chebunet said the two leaders have intensified their vote hunt by reaching out to opinion leaders from communities.

“Kenyatta and Raila want to meet the 50 plus one constitutional threshold for the winning presidential candidate and minority communities can deliver that for both of them,” said the political science lecturer at the University of Eldoret.

Dr Chebunet said CORD and Jubilee also want to achieve ethnic balance as the August 8, 2017 polls draw

closer.

But Sironka ole Masharen, a political commentator, has advised the community to be careful about being used. “The community should be politically mature and ensure it is not

used by the protagonists,” he said.

Threatened to quit When President Kenyatta met the leaders from Narok and Laikipia counties, they declared that they would join the Jubilee Party following discussions with key members the Maasai community.

Raila, who hosted the opinion leaders and potential aspirants from Narok and Kajiado counties, warned Jubilee to brace itself for a tough contest. The meeting came ahead of his planned tour of the counties later in the month.

“I had planned to tour Narok County but the local leaders decided to meet with me here at Orange House before the tour,” said Raila.

On Tuesday, Kenyatta met Maasai elders led by former Narok MP and Heritage Minister William ole Ntimama and Senator Stephen Ole Ntutu, and then the following day another group led by former ICT Principal Secretary Joseph Tiampati met the CORD leader.

Leaders allied to Jubilee believe the President will win the Maa vote in a region that overwhelmingly supported Raila in the 2013 General Election.

Narok West MP Patrick ole Ntutu, who has been critical of the Jubilee administration and had threatened to quit the party, has since changed  tune and agreed to remain in the party and contest for nomination in the primaries.

“I am encouraged by the assurance by the President and his deputy that the primaries will be free and fair and that it will be conducted by the IEBC. I am now ready to vie for nomination for the gubernatorial

seat,” said Mr Ntutu.

Mr Tiampati accepted to join ODM and declared that he would vie for governorship if he secures the

party’s nomination.

The Jubilee merger was also supported by Area Women Representative Soipan Kudate who vowed to rally the community to vote for Kenyatta in 2017.

Narok Governor said the ground had shifted and described the region as a Jubilee stronghold. “I want to

assure you (DP) that Narok is a Jubilee zone. They voted Jubilee 2013,  they will do so 2017 and will vote for you in 2022,” affirmed Tunai. Narok North MP Moitalel Ole Kenta (TNA), who has been against the amalgamation of political parties, said the public positions taken

by politicians who have met Uhuru and Raila are personal.

“The leaders who visited the President and those who met Raila did so on their own volition. Their

move does not in any way represent the wishes of the community. As a community, we will have to meet and decide the party to join,” he said, but added that the popular political party they choose must advance the interests of the Maasai.

ODM officials in the area have warned Jubilee to prepare for a bruising battle in 2017, and said Raila

support in the region was unwavering. “Politics have taken a new turn here in Narok. The Maasai electorate is a dejected lot because they have been neglected by Jubilee,” said Robinson Ole Torome, the ODM County Organising Secretary.

He accused the Jubilee administration of not doing enough to address historical land injustices, and said it had a poor development and had done little to restore the Mau Forest.

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