May 26th 2017

Top Stories / 2017 Elections

Ruto fights for Kalenjin power base as outsiders desert in droves

"While the media is focused on the defections between Jubilee and the opposition, the movement of politicians from Mr Ruto to Mr Kenyatta's camps in Jubilee is astounding," said a political operative from the Rift Valley.

By David Mutuadmutua@kenyafreepress.comThursday, 16 Mar 2017 12:05 EAT

DP Ruto (right) and Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto in a past meeting.

Deputy President William Ruto is fighting the political battle of his life, with rival political parties KANU and Chama cha Mashinani (CCM) lining up political heavyweights for electoral seats in the Rift Valley to undercut his influence in his backyard. Matters are made worse by the fact that the two parties have sprung up at a time when the DP is losing key non-Kalenjin political affairs upon whose support his national power-base rested.

The two parties, led by Baringo Senator Gideon Moi and Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto, have increased their popularity in the South Rift in recent weeks and are currently spreading their wings to the North Rift. The parties have made inroads in Baringo, West Pokot and Bomet counties and are currently coalescing their forces in Elgeyo Marakwet, Nakuru, Kericho and Uasin Gishu.

Among the heavyweights working with the parties include former Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo, Kuresoi South MP Zakayo Cheruiyot, West Pokot senator John Lonyangapuo, Narok senator Stephen ole Ntutu and his brother Patrick ole Ntutu, the latter who is running for the local governorship position. While senator Ntutu is retiring from active politics, his brother Patrick recently joined Governor Ruto's CCM.

In Baringo, several members of the county assembly elected on the defunct United Rrepublican Party formerly led by DP Ruto have joined KANU. In addition to seeking to retain his Baringo senate seat, Mr Moi has made a line-up of senatorial and governorship positions for Elgeyo Marakwet and West Pokot, and is seeking to retain the Rongai parliamentary seat his brother holds in Nakuru County.

Three top aspirants from the North Rift region have declared their intention to use the KANU ticket in the election. 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. KANU and CCM will benefit even more from the fallout within Jubilee during the party's primaries.

The new battle-front in the Rift Valley follows a series of defections from the DP's camp to President Uhuru kenyatta's side of former allies of the DP from Samburu, Mandera, Narok and Isiolo counties. "While the media is focused on the defections between Jubilee and the opposition, the movement of politicians from Mr Ruto to Mr Kenyatta's camps in Jubilee is astounding," said a political operative from the Rift Valley.

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