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Which way Rift Valley as Gideon, Ruto jostle for control of vote-rich region?

POLITICS
By Steve Mkawale | June 27th 2021
Deputy President William Ruto. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Deputy President William Ruto has a Herculean task ahead in his quest to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta next August.

For starters, the DP must keep his support base in the vote-rich Rift Valley bastion intact amid the resurgence of Baringo Senator Gideon Moi, whose ambitions were bolstered by the pact he inked with President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party.

This is in addition to the One Kenya Alliance deal he has with Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi, Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka and Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula of Ford Kenya.

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s ODM is in talks with Uhuru’s Jubilee to join forces ahead of the 2022 polls.

Although Ruto’s allies are quick to dismiss the developments as inconsequential, the split in Jubilee and the envisaged new alliance have emboldened Senator Moi, whose allies are upbeat he will be on the ballot next year.

“We expect Senator Gideon Moi to be the flag bearer of the super alliance. The rest will fall in place... The river shall take its natural course,” Tiaty MP William Kamket told the Sunday Standard last week..

Under the Kanu-Jubilee pact, West Pokot Senator Samuel Pogishio replaced Elgeyo Marakwet’s Kipchumba Murkomen as the Senate Majority leader.

In the recent past, talk has been rife for a political party that will articulate the issues of the Pokot community.

Registration drives

It is this thought that made Ruto to tour Kapenguria in West Pokot last week where he declared that he was ready to face the planned coalition between Jubilee and ODM.

“I have heard them talk about Jubilee and ODM coming together. Let them know we are not bothered. We have our own hustlers’ party that has no tribal or regional boundaries. We are okay where we are,” he said.

Mass UDA member registration drives have been done in Nandi, Uasin Gichu, Kericho, Bomet, Baringo, Elgeyo Marakwet, Turkana and Nakuru.

The party’s reception in Trans Nzoia, Narok, Samburu, Kajiado and West Pokot counties has been lukewarm.

Isaac Ruto, the former governor of Bomet, and his Chama Cha Mashinani (CCM) have rallied behind DP Ruto as he eyes a political comeback.

To counter Ruto’s influence, Gideon has been working closely with Governor Alex Tolgos of Elgeyo Marakwet, Moiben MP Sila Tiren, Nominated MP Wilson Sossion and other opinion leaders from the region.

“Kanu still has a big presence in the Rift Valley,” says secretary general Nick Salat.

He adds that the party is working toward ensuring the super alliance succeeds in fielding a presidential candidate in 2022.

Before the Covid 19 pandemic, Gideon made numerous visits to the North Rift, the political bedrock of DP Ruto, to target key community leaders, clerics, and opinion shapers.

Pundits believe he is aiming at taking charge of the Rift Valley politics and leading the people to the new super alliance.

Early this year, Gideon was crowned the Kalenjin kingpin by Talai elders in a ceremony that saw him handed the community’s instruments of power and gave him the mandate to look for the country’s leadership.

Before that, he spearheaded a series of campaigns in support of the proposed constitutional changes through the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), a move that stirred discussion on his game plan in Uhuru’s succession politics.

But it is Gideon’s allegiance to the super alliance that is causing jitters among DP Ruto’s allies and supporters in the region.

Former Jubilee deputy secretary-general Caleb Kositany (Soy), Daniel Rono (Keiyo South), and Cornelly Serem (Aldai) said they are building UDA as a mass party that will field candidates across the country.

“The rearrangement by some of our competitors are geared towards power-sharing and have nothing to do with issues and putting up plans to transform the livelihoods of Kenyans,” said Kositany.  

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