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What Kosgey’s return means for Raila and ODM

By VINCENT BARTOO and VITALIS KIMUTAI
High Court clears Tinderet MP Henry Kosgey of all charges just like The Hague did, making it possible for him to return to Cabinet.

This is what forced him to step aside and it was also the likely barrier stopping the Orange Democratic Movement chairman from being groomed as Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s running mate.

This, were it to happen, would be Raila’s appreciation of the fact that Kosgey is one of ODM’s senior-most politicians, who has stuck with him despite his earlier travails with The Hague, even as Eldoret North MP Ruto walked away with some Rift Valley MPs. 

Kosgey’s moment of joy, with luck striking twice this year, now means another headache for Raila as he looks for a replacement for Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi in Local Government ministry, and filling the Tinderet MP’s Industrialisation portfolio.

Sources in ODM said Kosgey would indeed make a return to the Cabinet in a high profile portfolio, after being absolved of charges related to illegal clearance of imported second hand cars.

“To regain his influence in the vote- rich Rift Valley Province, Raila needs an influential ally in the region, and that is why Kosgey would likely be moved to the Ministry of Local Government,” predicted an MP from Nyanza.

The ODM chairman told The Standard he was looking forward to exciting times again in his public service, and expressed optimism the coalition principals would reinstate him.

Bigger things
“Yes, I look forward to the ministerial flag so I can continue with the good work I had begun in the docket assigned to me, though that is the exclusive discretion of the President and the PM,” he said.

Talk in ODM circles also suggest that Kosgey could also be headed for bigger things because he is among those being mentioned as possible running mate for Raila.

His return to the Cabinet is certainly assured because those earlier cleared either by court or investigative bodies – like Cabinet ministers Amos Kimunya and Moses Wetangula, and Assistant minister Wilfred Machage – were reinstated once found innocent.

Kosgey recently launched a bid to become Raila’s running mate, giving indication he was back.  “Now that I have put the (ICC) case behind me, I am optimistic that I would be cleared of the other one so that I can offer my leadership in these positions,” he said during a fundraising meeting in Eldoret South two weeks ago.

Speaking to The Standard, Kosgey said the two cases were political having been instigated by “some forces in Government”.

“After the events that followed the last elections, I have been targeted by some forces owing to my position as ODM chairman,” he said.

Kosgey said he was shocked after the ICC named him as one of the perpetrators of post-election violence, something he said he “would never do in my lifetime”.

“They further pursued me to my ministry and brought people there to try and frame me,” he added, without dropping names.

Kosgey said he made a personal decision to let the law run its course in the two cases, leading to his acquittal by ICC and the High Court.

After ICC cleared him, Kosgey returned to the political fold and is engaged, albeit silently, in a bid to woo Rift Valley back to ODM.

Sources said Kosgey has also been speaking to Rift Valley MPs, asking them to quit Ruto’s United Republican Party.

Democratic right
But speaking in Cherangany last weekend, Kosgey said he was only strengthening ODM in Rift Valley, and would let the leaders decide where they want to be.

He said he was not at war with Ruto, who he said was exercising his democratic right to run for president.

“Ruto is playing his game using the right hand, while I am using the left hand and we are working for the interests of our people,” said Kosgey.

Last week, Cherangany MP Joshua Kutuny hosted Kosgey for a fundraiser in his constituency where he endorsed him as the best to deputise Raila.

“I personally support your political ambition. We wish you well,” said Kutuny. Kutuny said he had invited Kosgey to the function as a personal friend.
The Kalenjin, he added, should support Kosgey and Ruto in their quests to ensure that the community was accommodated in the next government.

Kosgey, who has been elected to Parliament six times, is perceived as a silent, but calculating politician who springs surprises.

In Eldoret South, he told those who attended the fundraising that they should trust and stick by him and ODM, assuring them they will not go wrong.

“Have I ever lied to you? I measure my moves carefully before taking them. That is why I want you to remain in ODM. This is where we belong,” he said.

When he was named among the ICC six suspects and later forced to step down from Cabinet owing to graft claims, many thought Kosgey’s political career had dimmed.

Kosgey immediately assumed a low profile and temporarily abandoned ODM affairs, instead joining hands with Ruto, his co-accused then.

Former Eldoret South MP David Koros said Kosgey’s sober approach to issues had endeared him to people across the country, and he remained suitable ODM leader to deputise PM.

“Kosgey commands a lot of respect in Rift Valley and has stood with the PM even when the centre seemed to be caving in,” Koros said.

Koros added: “He has lived above petty partisan political interests and held on to the strong understanding that political storms are passing clouds.”

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