September 22nd 2017

Top Stories / 2017 Elections

Ruto, Gideon battles could put Rift Valley on edge of pre-election violence

Three top aspirants from the North Rift region have declared their intention to use the KANU ticket in contesting senatorial and parliamentary seats in Elgeyo Marakwet and Uasin Gishu, with more expected to come up in the coming weeks.

By Priscillah Wanjirupwanjiru@kenyafreepress.comTuesday, 21 Feb 2017 11:26 EAT

DP Ruto meets with Mr Moi at the latter's Karen home in 2015 May.

The coming of KANU into the Jubilee Coalition is raising tensions in the Rift Valley, pitting deputy president William Ruto against Baringo senator Gideon Moi. While the two are well known for their differences, the way Kanu has come into the governing side (through a deal about which Mr Ruto was not made aware) has triggered realignments in the region, with many politicians now considering KANU as a second home.

Three top aspirants from the North Rift region have declared their intention to use the KANU ticket in contesting senatorial and parliamentary seats in Elgeyo Marakwet and Uasin Gishu, with more expected to come up in the coming weeks. Former Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo is running for the Elgeyo Marakwet senate seat while Geoffrey Chebwai is running in Uasin Gishu.

Former auditor in the National Assembly Abraham Kipchuma Kimutai is running for the Keiyo North parliamentary seat. All three are top leaders whose snub of the Jubilee Party will greatly enhance Mr Moi's political credentials. However, there is concern that increased competition between the two parties could lead to a deterioration in the security situatioin of a region that has witnessed politically-related in recent months.

The supremacy battles between Mr Ruto and Mr Moi in the Rift Valley has been evident for months, with Baringo County emerging as the theatre of an all-out war between the two 'bulls'. The recent tribal clashes in Elgeyo Marakwet fused sharply into an evolving narrative where anti-Ruto leaders were using the escalating insecurity in the region as a sign of Mr Ruto's and the Jubilee government's failures.

The killing of two politicians in Marigat Town, Baringo County, last weekend has led to further escalation of tension in the area. Fredrick Cheretei, the Loyamorok Member of County Assembly and Symon Kitambaa, a parliamentary aspirant for Tiaty constituency, were shot at Petra-Alfa junction restaurant in the town by unknown assassins.

The killings, which came on the heels of rising tensions in Tiaty, Kerio Valley in Elgeyo Marakwet and Kuresoi in Nakuru, are indicative of potential pre-election violence in the region that has been a hotspot in previous elections. In Kerio Valley, a man was killed by raiders killed three people. The borders of Baringo, Marakwet and Pokot Counties have seen a surge in ethnically-motivated clashes now being blamed on cattle rustling.

Last weekend, residents of Tiaty issued a 48 hour ultimatum to authorities to apprehend the culprits threatening to take the law into their own hands. This came even as leaders continue to petition the government to address escalating cases of criminality across the nation. Baringo County's six constituencies are all on the edge as the violence may combine with political differences ahead of the election.

Two people were shot dead in Arabal, Baringo South, and over 1, 000 fled their homes after suspected armed Pokot bandits attacked the area on Sunday. “They killed two people and made away with over 300 heads of cattle and escaped to the Chesiririmion Hills in Tiaty subcounty,” Arabal chief William Koech told the Star newspaper.

The serial attacks since Friday last week have displaced more than 1,000 people from Arabal, Sirata, Kapndasum and Kasiela villages. They have moved to the Kabal, Marigat and Mochongoi areas, which are relatively safer, according to the paper. But areas such as Yatya, Chemoe, Loruk and Ng’aratuko in Baringo North are still tense.

Baringo County Commissioner Peter Okwanyo has brough together 50 community elders from Tugen, Ilchamus and Tugen communities to discuss ways of maintaining peace.

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