The sibling rivalry between Orange Democratic Movement and Chama Cha Mashinani in Narok County could deny the Opposition National Super Alliance votes in a region it enjoys considerable support.
Before he visited the area two weeks ago, NASA presidential candidate Raila Odinga failed to bring Patrick Ntutu, the CCM gubernatorial candidate, and his competitor Joseph Tiampati to agree who will be the sole alliance candidate to face incumbent Samuel Tunai, who is defending his seat on a Jubilee Party (JP) ticket. Early this month, Raila postponed his visit to give the two time to agree but when they failed, he decided to make the tour that brought to the fore the political intrigues facing the two political parties.
At all the six political rallies Raila held, the two leaders attended and it appeared that each was trying to outsmart the other. There were instances when Raila had to personally intervene to have rival supporters display campaign materials of their respective candidates.
Raila only publicly endorsed Ledama ole Kina for the Senate seat on an ODM ticket during a rally at Narok Stadium, but declined to do so for Tiampati, who is vying on the same party ticket. Already, the Tiampati group is accusing Raila of failing to state who he supports and are threatening to mobilise locals to vote for JP.
Led by Narok North MP Moitalel Ole Kenta, the group said Raila seemed to favour Ntutu, during talks that led to CCM party leader and Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto to join NASA in April, one of the agreements was that CCM be supported to win the Narok gubernatorial and other elective seats.
Tiampati’s group says he was chosen by the Masai, especially Purko clan elders, to face Tunai.
“We will not be armtwisted. It is Tiampati or there will be no NASA in Narok. Raila should state who he is supporting before we make the decision,” says Kenta.
Last week before NASA leaders visited the region, Kenta and a section of Purko elders called a news conference at his Illariak Lodge where they told the Bomet governor to keep off Narok and concentrate on fighting for his re-election.
Ruto has lately been accompanying Ntutu in virtually all campaign rallies, drumming up support for his gubernatorial bid. The pact between Ruto and his fellow NASA principals Raila, Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang’ula remains a secret, with some saying he bargained to have Narok and the South Rift region as exclusively CCM zones.
In May when he tested the waters by asking Narok residents to vote for CCM candidates, he was told off by Kenta who is fast emerging as a Masai defender after the death of former Cabinet minister and veteran politician William Ole Ntimama, who died in September last year.
The difference between Tiampati and Ntutu is that the former hails from the populous Illmakesen sub-clan of the biggest Purko clan while the latter is from not so large Ilmolelian. Their differences are further compounded by the fact that the Tiampati group, Kenta included, are opposed to the Kipsigis’ dominance in Narok while Ntutu and his supporters are receptive.
Lamanken Aramat, the Narok East MP, says differences between Tiampati and Ntutu groups are a boon to Jubilee and its candidate Tunai. “The differences are working for us. They will divide the Purko votes to hand us victory,” he says.