July 25th 2017

Top Stories / 2017 Elections

Ruto, Tunai ground-game pits Maasai, Kipsigis against each other

If the DP can develop a consensus there, he can begin to define Kipsigis interests in this election. Right now, many Kipsigis like Maasai feel let down by Governor Tunai but a tribal consensus can be developed through a narrative that sidesteps performance," said the politician.

By Free Press Correspondentnewsdesk@kenyafreepress.comThursday, 10 Nov 2016 12:57 EAT

Deputy President William Ruto.

Elgeyo Marakwet senator Kipchumba Murkomen and deputy president William Ruto’s personal assistant Farouk Kibet convened a top-secret meeting with Kipsigis community leaders from Emurua Dikirr, Narok County, on Monday when the two leaders reportedly asked their tribesmen not to “fall for any leadership lineup that has no blessings of the DP.”

The meeting was seen as continuing a sharply increased effort by the deputy president to create a wedge between the Kipsigis and Maasai tribes as he fashions a leadership lineup in Narok in the face of opposition from local politicians allied to opposition leader Raila Odinga and President Uhuru Kenyatta. While the president and his deputy are in the same Jubilee Party, their local allies have taken divergent positions on Narok politics.

At the Monday meeting, which was held at Saparingo village in Kilgoris, Mr Murkomen and Mr Kibet were reported to have told the Kipsigis opinion leaders that Mr Ruto was the target of mushrooming political camps in the region that were aimed at ousting Governor Samuel Tunai. “Tunai is the DP’s man and if you see anybody fighting him, that person is fighting the DP himself,” a source at the meeting reported Mr Murkomen as saying.

The senator told the delegation also that rebel leaders from the Rift Valley, including Mr Ngeno, Bomet governor Isaac Ruto and Kuresoi South MP Zakayo Cheruiyot were being used by external forces to scuttle DP Ruto’s presidential ambitions. “These rebel leaders from our community are busy undermining the deputy president when they should be at the forefront campaigning for him,” he said.

According to a former civic aspirant in Narok Town, the deputy president is running a campaign that is dependent on creating a wedge between the Maasai and Kispigis tribes, with the goal of consolidating the big Kipsigis minority in one basket long before the elections are called. "The Kipsigis dominate Emurua Dikirr. If the DP can develop a consensus there, he can begin to define Kipsigis interests in this election. Right now, many Kipsigis like Maasai feel let down by Governor Tunai but a tribal consensus can be developed through a narrative that sidesteps performance," said the politician, who failed in his attempts in ODM in 2007 and Jubilee in 2013.

Governor Tunai is the one who chose the venue of the meeting where he, Samburu Governor Moses Lenolkulal and Narok East MP Ken Kiloku were the only non-Kipsigis leaders in attendance. All the leaders present agreed to “do all they can” to ensure that Emurua Dikirr MP Johana Ngeno, a Ruto critic who is the most recognized Kipsigis leader in Narok, was defeated in whichever political seat he runs for.

The MP has been selected as a deputy governorship candidate in one of the formations opposed to Governor Tunai. His opponent for the constituency seat in the 2013 elections, David Keter, was also present, according to a source who attended the meeting. Governor Tunai said Mr Ngeno, who is a critic of the Jubilee government, must be defeated if his constituency was to see development. “Emurua Dikirr will continue to be isolated if they continue electing an MP who is in the bad books of the national and county governments,’’ he said.

Mr Ngeno is a close ally of Bomet governor Ruto whose newly-registered Chama Cha Mashinani opened an office in Emurua Dikirr last week.

DP Ruto himself held another private meeting with Kipsigis leaders from Emurua Dikirr at Saparingo earlier this year.

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