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Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 7 September 2014

KIPSIGIS FACTOR URP HEADACHE AS REBELLION PERSISTS THREATENING DP



Supremacy battle between Deputy President William Ruto and Bomet governor Isaac Rutto has now taken a new twist with fresh revelations that the URP wing of the Jubilee coalition is secretly plotting to impeach the rebel governor.

Rutto is now pointing an accusing finger at the DP for being behind the move to impeach him and to finally expel him from URP. Last week, drama unfolded at Wilson Airport when Rutto confronted the DP and demanded to be told why he was lobbying the Bomet county MCAs to impeach him over his crusade for the proposed referendum.


“He has been lobbying members of the county assembly to initiate impeachment proceedings against me. I confronted him when I met him at Wilson Airport the other day. I asked him, ‘why are you doing this?’ and he just walked away,” said Rutto. 

Rutto has stated that he will not waiver in his resolve to press for stronger devolution structure and allocation of more money to the county governments through a referendum.
Last week, eight nominated MCAs from Bomet county who supports the referendum were summoned to a meeting in Nairobi by the DP where they were down dressed and asked to abandon the referendum calls. Ruto has dared URP to expel him from the party.

Analysts now say that Rutto is aware that he enjoys constitutional protection and that even expulsion from the party cannot make him lose his gubernatorial seat but only through impeachment by the county assembly.

Recently, supporters of the DP and Rutto clashed over calls for a referendum at a function attended by the two. The rival camps turned the church fundraiser at Marinyin Catholic Church in Bomet Central into a shouting match just after Kericho Senator Charles Keter took to the stage.

Keter and four other senators had led 12 MPs in dismissing calls for a referendum by the Council of Governors headed by Rutto. At one point, the visibly angry governor told off security officers who were trying to push his supporters. He threatened that the meeting would abort if the officers continued roughing up his backers. 

Two weeks ago, DP Ruto took with him a good number of Rift Valley MPs, governors and senators allied URP in Jubilee coalition to Bomet county on a mission which was seen and viewed by the local pundits and observers alike as “damage control mission”.


It is emerging, URP strategist are concerned with the Kipsigis factor in its fold and fear is the community rebellion led by a good number of politician is bound to have negative impact in 2017. With the DP were Senator Kindiki Kithure, Adan Duale, the majority leader in parliament, and other party politicians.

The visit to the Marinyin Catholic Church in Bomet West constituency was so important to the deputy president. The visit came on the heels of a temporary truce between the Ruto and his namesake who is the governor of Bomet and also a member of the Jubilee alliance.

The truce between the two Rutos had come following the recent reinstatement of the Kericho governor Paul Chepkwony by the senate after his brief impeachment by the Kericho Assembly MCAs, a move was viewed as have been instigated by the deputy president and his political surrogates in the region allegedly led by the Kericho senator Charles Keter.

The URP leader’s mission in the heart of Kipsigis land, however, flopped when his front man, Keter, whose popularity in the region appeared to have waned drastically were greeted with heckling and booing forcing the Catholic priest, Fr Donald Kimutai’s intervention after sensing that the high profile funds drive was likely to be marred by fracas and violent confrontations between supporters of the two Rutos.

Indeed, the mission proved to be an act of miscalculation on the part of DP Ruto.
During the abortive attempt to remove Kericho governor from his office on claims by MCAs who were alleged to have been bribed by agents and political hirelings of a senior Jubilee politician from the North Rift, the controversial move against the Kericho governor only served to unite members of the Kipsigis, a sub-tribe of the larger Kalenjin ethnic groups. It was seen as a ploy to marginalise the most populous community by their cousins from the North the same way it happened during the 24 years reign of the retired President Daniel Moi.

After Governor Chepkwony was reinstated by the Senate, Ruto immediately embarked on public relations tour of Kericho and Bomet, and at one time even reached the two governors to iron out their differences.
These missions worked well in favour of the DP Ruto. But the latest incident has worsened the situation and invigorated the feeling and attitudes of the residents of the region who have since joined the two governors in their support for the two impending referendum campaigns one led by Cord leader Raila Odinga and the other one for Pesa Mashinani led by Rutto of Bomet.
The other issue which has inflicted heavy damage to the DP Ruto in the South Rift is his change of heart and latest stand on the Mau Forest eviction of illegal squatters which is likely to hurt the DP mostly because many people still remember how he fought the former PM Raila tooth and nail over the Mau issue. This is now portraying him as someone with no principles and firm stand. Majority of the illegal settlers in the Mau Forest are people most who originated from Bomet county.

In the interest of Ruto, his handlers should advise him to limit his political utterances and weigh his words to avoid causing confusion among his supporters and backers in Kalenjin region and in other parts of Kenya. Ruto’s public pronouncements are full of contradictions, hence mounting opposition to his leadership.

The recent confrontation with the two Kipsigis governors appears to favour the governors and the sooner Ruto harmonises his working relations with the elected leaders in the South Rift and avoid the use of hirelings to harass them, the better.
Ruto’s overrelying on Senator Keter as his most trusted pointman is a matter of conjuncture. Keter seemed to have stepped on the toes of many elected leaders in Kipsigis land as his most trusted pointman in the South Rift region is matter of concern. But the man who stands to gain on the political wrangling between the DP Ruto and the two governors is the Kanu national chairman Gideon Moi, who many people in the area have credited his stand on the governor Chepkwony’s aborted impeachment scheme.