Ruto to get elders’ blessings to go for top seat at Eldoret rally

Deputy President William Ruto and Foreign Affairs Chief Administrative Secretary Ababu Namwamba during a past UDA rally at Logiri market in Nambale, Busia. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

Deputy President William Ruto will hold a political rally in his hometown of Eldoret today. Several MPs, governors and aspirants for various seats from the Rift Valley and beyond will attend what is expected to be  Ruto’s endorsement as the preferred presidential candidate in the August 9 General Election.

Eldoret Sports Club, the venue, is where Ruto was declared a community spokesman ahead of the 2013 polls. While assessing the venue yesterday, leaders led by Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago and a host of MPs said Eldoret will be painted yellow ( the colour of Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance). Hundreds of aspirants from Uasin Gishu, Elgeyo Marakwet and Nandi counties were yesterday finalising preparations for the rally. The DP is also expected to address another rally in Eldoret town.

Governor Mandago said Ruto will be given blessings and permission to focus on vote-hunting in other regions and leave his allies to sell his agenda in the Rift.

“As the people of North Rift, we will release Ruto to other regions. We will not tire him with campaigns in his home turf,” Mr Mandago said.

Ruto has been on a charm offensive in Western. On Thursday, he toured Busia County before heading to Bungoma yesterday. He also visited parts of Vihiga and Kakamega counties, days after Raila Odinga’s Azimio La Umoja rally at Bukhungu Stadium. A rally expected in Elgeyo Marakwet yesterday was postponed to give leaders time to prepare for today’s function.

“He will get the permission and blessings to seek the support of other Kenyans. We want to show Kenyans that UDA is the most organised party and the only outfit with a clear agenda and which will unite the country,” Mandago said.

He said leaders from the North Rift will present a list of priority projects they want delivered if Ruto is elected president. He also said Ruto’s allies from other regions have confirmed their attendance.

“As the local leadership, we have agreed that we are giving DP Ruto enough time to explain to the people in his home turf what the bottom-up economic model is. Locals want to hear it from the DP himself. It will be a major public participation for the bottom-up economic model,” the governor said.

Elgeyo Marakwet Deputy Governor Wisley Rotich said the blessings will show the country that the Rift Valley region is solidly behind Ruto. Mr Rotich, who, together with Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok, is in a steering committee that is preparing Rift Valley’s priority areas for UDA party, said leaders from over eight counties in the region will attend the rally.

“We are donating Dr Ruto to Kenyans because the bottom-up economic model is a national agenda,” Rotich said.

He added: “We are showcasing the peaceful nature of the hustler nation. It will be the most peaceful rally, and we will demonstrate how the hustler movement will change the lives of ordinary Kenyans.”

Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri said Central Kenya will declare their support for the DP in today’s rally. He said Mt Kenya region is behind Ruto because of his support for President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2002, 2013 and 2017.

“We will be thanking President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto for their 2013 handshake because it has united all communities in the Rift Valley. Today, all communities are peacefully doing business in Eldoret,” he said.

Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi said all aspirants from Uasin Gishu and other counties will shelve their political differences and sibling rivalry during Ruto’s rally. He said after the Eldoret rally, the DP can only attend other meetings in the region, if he gets time.

He said today’s rally will be a cultural event and at least 90 elected leaders will attend. “In Kalenjin culture, there are things that someone who is embarking on a journey is told, and he is offered some food, and that is what the DP will be given in the rally.

“We will also have another mega rally in Nakuru. The Eldoret rally is meant to address concerns by locals in the North Rift who have been asking why the DP was touring other areas and leaving out the region,” Sudi said.

Soy MP Caleb Kositany said Ruto will receive blessings from elders drawn from diverse communities in the Rift Valley.

“We are using the event to thank him because he has gone through a lot of humiliation, but has held strong,” Kositany said.