Top Stories / Counties
Tuesday, 28 Feb 2017 11:50 EAT
Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto’s decision to work with Baringo Senator and KANU chairman Senator Gideon Moi in supporting President Uhuru Kenyatta's re-election campaign has caught many unawares, most notably opposition leaders who were banking on Mr Ruto to join their bandwagon.
The governor was perceived to be moving closer to the National Super Alliance (NASA) after hosting its leaders Raila (ODM), Kalonzo Musyoka (WDM-K), Musalia Mudavadi (ANC) and Moses Wetangula (Ford-Kenya) during the colaition’s first meeting in his Bomet backyard. But no sooner had that happened did he take a hasty retreat to work with KANU in a new campaign strategy that he has assessed to be in his best interest.
In multiple interviews with the governor's allies and Kanu sources in the Rift Valley, this website learnt that Mr Ruto has made a commitment to work with other pro-Jubiee leaders in the region to support a party and a president he had repeatedly vowed never to work with during the last five years.
The governor was expected to officially announce his decision of supporting the president at yesterday's defection of Narok West MP Patrick ole Ntutu to his party Chama Cha Mashinan. He however chose to postpone the anouncement in wait for an appropriate moment, according to our sources.
This morning, his spokesman Kiprotich Samoei told this website that the Governor is “yet to decide which coalition he will support in the general elections, and there is no deadline in his decision-making”. However, according to our interviews, the governor's support for the Jubilee Party and President Kenyatta is a foregone conclusion, and it is informed by a number of factors.
The first one is that he and other critics of the deputy president William Ruto from the Rift Valley need to marshall their forces from one side, and it has been hard for him to persaude Kanu chairman Moi into supporting the opposition. Secondly, the governor has come to believe that he would be most effective as a critic within the government side rather than from the opposition.
His main interest at the moment is seeking re-election, for which he needs, foremost, as much support as he can get from his own voters in Bomet. "Kalenjins are in Jubilee and only a dramatic event like the dropping of DP Ruto from the presidential ticket would take them out of it,” said a source close to the governor.
Working with the Jubilee side is also believed to accord the governor benefits that he would not get from the CORD side. Fronting a fierce force alongside the Moi family would bring resources his campaign needs. "Don't forget that Kalenjin politics is expensive, and a lot of senior people need to be bought literally," a source said.
The force between Ruto’s CCM and Moi’s KANU is expected to give DP Ruto a run for his money since they will not field a presidential candidate and instead throw weight behind re-election of President Kenyatta. The CCM and KANU unity comes in the heels of last week’s endorsement of KANU’s deal Senator Moi signed with President Kenyatta to have the independence party share power in a post-election agreement.
The third calculation was that his party CCM stands to gain from the defection of at least a dozen heavyweights from Jubilee from Narok, Kericho, Bomet and Nakuru counties and even from parts of Kisii. “In so many of these areas, politicians supporting Uhuru’s re-election and who feel animus against Kanu will join the governor’s party,” the source said, insisting that the same would not happen if the governor was to join the CORD coalition or NASA. “Many of the aspirants leaning to the opposition in these areas are already in ODM and they would not need CCM”.
At yesterday’s defection by Mr Ntutu from DP Ruto’s defunct United Republican Party (URP) to CCM, Governor Ruto and Senator Moi said they would field candidates in both South and North Rift to dilute DP Ruto’s popularity in the Rift Valley region. Already the two parties have zoned areas perceived to be theirs. Kanu has Baringo, Elgeyo Marakwet and West Pokot counties as its block votes before venturing into others, while CCM has Bomet, Kericho and Narok counties.
Mr Ntutu who was received at his Olopirik farm home was not leaving Jubilee Party alone, but with former influential Maa politician William ole Ntimama’s daughter Lydia and about 10 MCAs. Emurua Dikirr MP Johana Ng’eno who was elected on National Congress Party ticket has also joined CCM and attended the event.
Senator Moi is quoted in today’s dailies saying “We, as Kanu, are working with CCM to revolutionise Rift Valley”. He warned Jubilee against plotting to steal votes as witnessed in the Kericho by-election where Kanu candidate Paul Sang lost to Jubilee’s Aaron Cheruiyot in a hotly contested race.
“I want to tell you to take care of your vote so that they (Jubilee) don’t steal it. They stole from us in Kericho and we do not want the same to happen here in Narok,” warned Gideon. The senator also took the opportunity to drum up support for Ntutu for governorship, saying he had what it takes to deliver development.
His sentiments were echoed by West Pokot Senator John Lonyangapuo, Rongai legislator Raymond Moi, and Kanu’s Secretary General Nick Salat, who said it was high time the two parties teamed up to deliver quality leadership. Ntutu, who will face off with Jubilee’s Samuel Tunai, the incumbent and former ICT PS Joseph Tiampati, said he was upset by the level of corruption and under-development meted upon the Narok electorate by the current leadership.