By Edwin Cheserek
The United Republican Party leader and presidential candidate William Ruto has been fighting to consolidate his power in the Rift Valley ahead of the next elections.
In his quest to lock out his former friend turned foe, Prime Minister Raila Odinga from the region, Ruto has been wooing Raila’s close Kalenjin allies to join him.
After snatching Sotik MP Joyce Laboso from ODM, Ruto is said to be burning the midnight oil scheming how to win over Ministers Franklin Bett, Dr Sally Kosgey, assistant minister Magerer Langat and assistant minister Beatrice Kones who are still in ODM.
The party has by last week received applications from over 3,000 politicians seeking positions in the National assembly and county governments.
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But besides ODM, Ruto’s party is also facing stiff competition from Nicholas Biwott’s National Vision Party, Kanu and the United Democratic Movement (UDM) party. The three parties are said to have formed an alliance to counter URP’s wave in the Rift Valley.
Ruto’s party however suffered a setback when it lost the Eldoret Market ward civic seat to Uhuru Kenyatta’s TNA in the recent by-election.
Political analyst Dr Paul Chirchir says formidable candidates joined the party because they have read the situation on the ground.
“To the best of my knowledge, the mood of the people has shifted from ODM to URP,” argues Chirchir.
According to his opinion, any aspirant who would be nominated on the party’s ticket automatically becomes the office bearer come the next government.
But a local politician and a director with Kenya Farmers Association Kipkorir Menjo thinks otherwise.
He says those who think they would ride behind the wave of the party would be surprised because many factors would be at play.
“It is too early for the candidates to celebrate because they are not the only ones in the political arena,” he says.