By Vincent Bartoo and Edwin Cheserek
Has the Chairman of Wiper Democratic Movement Samuel Poghisio quit the party and abandoned his boss–Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka?
Details have emerged that it is just a matter of time before Poghisio calls it quits and officially joins the United Republican Party (URP) led by Eldoret North MP William Ruto.
Poghisio only has a few days to make his stand official because the new Political Parties Act requires that one must be a member of a political party three months before the date of the party nominations.
However, reliable sources told The County Weekly that Pogishio’s recent political moves could be part of an effort mooted to have Kalonzo agree to be Ruto’s running mate in next year’s polls.
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“A committee has been formed to try and woo Kalonzo into accepting to become Ruto’s running mate because of the popularity that they both enjoy. That a combination of the two would form a winning team,” said a member of the committee who declined to be named.
But it is not in doubt that Poghisio seems to have shifted political loyalty to Ruto and is supporting his bid for the presidency and not that of the Vice President under the Wiper party.
During a recent trip to Poghisio’s Pokot home turf, Kalonzo openly expressed displeasure at his party Chairman’s waning interest in the Wiper Democratic Movement (WDM).
He told locals that when he was accorded two Cabinet slots in the Grand Coalition, he offered the first one to Pokot and the next to his Ukambani backyard which are both marginalized areas.
“I have nothing against Poghisio but I expected him to have popularized the party here,” said Kalonzo.
Kalonzo’s speech revealed his frustration with his party chairman who has in the recent past leaned more towards the uncertain G7 alliance that has since relegated the VP, despite his seniority and untainted public service record.
In an interview with The County Weekly, Poghisio was calculative and evasive in his responses but admitted he was involved in the process of uniting THE VP’s Wiper Democratic Movement (WDM) and Ruto’s United Republican Party (URP).
Mr Poghisio, who is the current Information and Communication Minister, has been on URP’s campaign trail popularizing the party despite being a member of Wiper Democratic Movement party.
Party leader and Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, raised issue with Poghisio’s involvement with URP when he took WDM campaigns to Poghisio’s home turf in Kapenguria recently.
But there is suspicion that Poghisio is not subscribing to the Wiper party policies and he is likely to decamp to URP in a matter of months.
The law says that an MP who supports the policies of another party or campaigns for it is deemed to have left his or her initial party.
This means that should Wiper party have adequate evidence to support the complaint and expel Poghisio, he would definitely lose his seat.
Law lecturer Mr Kipchumba Murkomen who is eyeing the Elgeyo-Marakwet senate seat on a URP ticket said Poghisio became a member of the party long ago.
He said the party has a unique combination that brings on board like minded political parties to have more numbers ahead of the elections.
The party, which is under the leadership of Eldoret North MP William Ruto, Murkomen said, was popular in the region saying it is necessary for Poghisio to support it.“I can assure you now that as things stand, Poghisio is a member of URP and he is in the party to stay,” he said.
A source that is privy to developments in URP intimated to The County Weekly that negotiations to have Kalonzo as Ruto’s running mate are ongoing.
He disclosed that a team of leaders from the party have been constituted to spearhead the negotiations between the Wiper party and URP.
“We found it necessary to have Kalonzo as our running mate because we have more numbers than those of his Wiper party,” said the source.
He disclosed that nothing much came out during the first round of negotiations that took place some weeks ago but he said the team would convene a meeting for another one.
The source further added that URP had unanimously agreed that if the pre-election agreement does not materialize, Poghisio would have to leave the Wiper party.
Cherangany MP Joshua Kuttuny who is a close ally of Ruto said the minister has read the mood on the ground and that is why he has to tread very cautiously.
Interestingly, the legislator recalled that the last time the Kacheliba MP was a member of Wiper party was in 2008 but has since been on their side. He, however, did not deny or confirm the planned pre-pact between the two parties but hinted at Ruto’s intentions of strengthening his URP party.
Kuttuny said: “People are aligning themselves to parties that embrace democracy and those that can propel them to Parliament and that is what Poghisio is currently doing.” He said they are optimistic that more MPs from other parties would join URP saying it had a national outlook.
The minister is remembered for having had a long association with Ruto since the controversy over the Mau issue occurred and the current ICC cases.
At first, the minister seemed to be expressing sympathy to the Eldoret North MP because of the Hague-based cases but since then they have become very close.
Mr Poghisio said that he was informed by the need to work with like-minded parties for a future political destiny.
The minister pointed out that it was his desire that Wiper and URP work together to bring long-lasting unity in the country.
“URP is a political vehicle that must work together with Wiper and it is my effort to unite the parties ahead of the historic general elections,” he said.
He, however, disclosed that should efforts to have the parties form a formidable alliance fail, he would state his position before December this year. This was after the G7 leaders decision to campaign on their own hit a snag,
He said URP is popular in the entire of Pokot County and it was paramount for him to move in the right direction.
Asked about Kalonzo’s complaints on his association with Ruto and URP, he said the Vice President planned his Pokot trip with leaders from other parties and he was bound to complain. “I am sure Kalonzo talked to the wrong crowd and not members of the Wiper party whom I suspect misled him,” he stated.
He refused to comment on the alleged ongoing negotiations to have Kalonzo as Ruto’s running mate saying he was not among those spearheading if such talks were at all taking place.
“I am not interested for now on who becomes the running mate for which candidate. But I am focusing on bringing together strong parties now that the issue of a run-off seems to be a reality,” he said.
At the moment, he said, his duties are to see the two parties work together to marshal good numbers especially in the run up to the polls.
The minister said he would announce his stand on which party he would vie for the Pokot Senate seat come next year.