Top Stories / 2017 Elections
Thursday, 13 Oct 2016 13:25 EATnewsdesk@kenyafreepress.com
Deputy president William Ruto has assured residents of Kericho, Nandi, Baringo, Bomet, Elgeyo Marakwet and Uasin Gishu counties that Jubilee Party nominations for the region's gubernatorial elections would be free and fair. The issue was the top agenda during Mr Ruto's visit in Konoin constituency in Bomet on Sunday as he sought to calm fears that he had identified favourite candidates for the positions.
Speaking at Mogogosiek in Konoin, he addressed fears by the residents that he was supporting deputy speaker in the national assembly, Dr Joyce Laboso, for the position. Incumbent governor Isaac Ruto will seek re-election on his own newly-formed Chama Cha Mashinani (CCM) but the Jubilee ticket has attracted the interest of Dr Laboso, former Konoin MP Julius Kones and a host of other aspirants.
Perceptions that the DP was supporting Dr Laboso have angered supporters of Dr Kones, the runners-up in URP nominations in 2013 who is also an old ally of the DP. Governor Ruto has moved to embrace Dr Kones, who is seen as his main opponent in next year’s general election, by cementing the fears that Jubilee nominations could be 'rigged'.
While the two faced off at a function where the Unilever Tea Company was handing over classrooms it sponsored at Koiwa Central School in Konoin, they spoke favourably of each other, with the governor asking the former Konoin MP to rally behind him. The governor announced that he would seek re-election on the CCM ticket.
He said that upon serving two terms as governor, he would go for the senator’s seat so he can continue championing for the success of devolution in the country. However, Mr Kones, who is currently the chairman of the National Water Conservation and Pipeline Corporation, said it was Mr Ruto’s turn to support him as part of 2013 pact they made.
“Just as we agreed in the 2013 polls that whoever wins will go for one term and afterward support the other in 2017, it is now your turn to support me,” the former MP said. The two, who are in rival camps, expressed admiration for each other, but Dr Kones explained that his good relations with the governor should not be misconstrued by supporters to mean that they had a common election plan.
“I am fully in the Jubilee party and there is no doubt about it. I have my work at the national government and the governor has his, but we complement one another for the prosperity of the county,” said Dr Kones, who made an apparent criticism of Dr Laboso, his main opponent in Jubilee: “She is not up to the fight, this will be a grueling battle that requires only men,” he said.
Dr Kones, who is an old ally of DP Ruto, addressed fears that the DP had a preferred candidate for the seat. He said the DP would remain above board in the contest for Jubilee nomination in Bomet and elsewhere in the Rift Valley. His statement cohered with an assurance the DP gave at Mogogosiek.
As campaigns for Jubilee nominations for governorships of Kericho, Nandi, Baringo, Bomet and Uasin Gishu counties pick steam, the DP has had to address fears that he would support his preferred candidates. “Let no one lie to you that we as Jubilee leaders have preferred candidates for any seat even here in Bomet, it is the electorate who will pick candidates for Jubilee," Mr Ruto said at Mogogosiek.
The DP's allies, including Energy cabinet secretary Charles Keter, have helped him spread the message of his neutrality in the races. Two weekends ago, the CS appeared with an insurgent candidate for Kericho governorship, in a bid interpreted by local pundits as part of the DP's efforts to undercut perceptions that he would favour Ainamoi MP Benjamin Lagat for the position.