With less than a fortnight to the August 9 polls, Deputy President William Ruto is leaving nothing to chance and wants to ensure his support base is solidly united behind him.
In a move to demonstrate that charity begins at home, Dr Ruto on Monday made political forays in his North Rift backyard to consolidate United Democratic Alliance (UDA) support against rising competition from Independent candidates.
Accompanied by national and local allies, Ruto intensified his onslaught in constituencies with strong independent candidates where he persuaded the electorates not to embarrass him, but to vote in their numbers to all UDA nominees from the governor, senator, women representative, members of National and County assemblies.
Coming a day after the historic Kapkatet rally in Kericho, Ruto used both the national language and the local dialect to sink his political message to thousands of his UDA supporters who turned up during his rallies in Nandi, Uasin Gishu, West Pokot and Elgeyo Marakwet Counties.
Prior to his tour, some Independent candidates who spoke to The Standard had opined that Ruto ought to seek more votes from residents and avoid attacking those in other political formations as long as they supported his Kenya Kwanza bottom-up economic model.
“We do not expect Dr Ruto to advocate for the six-piece voting pattern but, instead, urge residents to vote for him as a bloc. As an independent candidate, I support his presidential bid and welcome him to North Rift,” an Independent candidate who did not wish to be named said.
But UDA politics took centre stage as arsenals were hurled at independent candidates in Ruto’s daylong rallies targeted at Nandi Hills, Kesses, Moiben and Marakwet East. Among those targeted included vocal Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter is seeking his third term as an independent candidate. In the neighbouring Kesses, Swarrup Mishra was also not spared.
In Nandi Hills, Cate Waruguru (Laikipia Women Rep), Nandi Governor Stephen Sang, his Uasin Gishu counterpart Jackson Mandago, Senator Kipchumba Murkomen (Elgeyo Maraket), Gladys Shollei (Uasin Gishu) MPs Ndindi Nyoro (Kiharu), Oscar Sudi (Kapseret), Didmus Barasa (Kimilili) campaigned against Ketter urging residents to vote him out.
“We have moved around Mt Kenya region and UDA is most popular. We have no problem with our friend the local MP, but he is playing for another team, and we cannot accommodate him as UDA,” said Waruguru.
Murkomen urged the electorates to ensure they voted for UDA nominees to allow Dr Ruto have numbers in national and county legislative assemblies for effective implementation of the bottom up economic model.
Keter is facing off with UDAs nominee Benard Kitur while Dr Mishra is competing with Julius Rutto as Tiren in Moiben faces UDA’s Phyllis Bartoo. But it was in Uasin Gishu County that the leaders prayed to the residents to vote out Dr Mishra, whom they accused of bragging that he controls the region using his deep pockets.
Dr Mishra dismissed claims against him and stated that he respected DP Ruto’s tour of the region, saying they should be given a humble time to solicit for votes. In Uasin Gishu, Ruto said he had traversed all regions of the country where majority Kenyans had resolved to back him through UDA and that it would be an embarrassment to have independent elected leaders from his hometurf.
“I am here to seek votes for UDA. In 2013 and 2017, we all teamed up and formed jubilee government and have enjoyed services including roads infrastructure and electricity connectivity among others. If we were able to achieve this while I am a deputy President, how far will we go if elected president with our good manifesto?” Ruto posed.