African Press International (API)

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Who will take Ainamoi seat?

Posted by African Press International on May 21, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmail.no source. nation.ke

ODM the ticket of choice in Ainamoi

Story by SOLLO KIRAGU and WALTER MENYA

The memories of the murder of Ainamois newly-elected MP David Kimutai Too in late January are still fresh as the June 11 by-election approaches.

A security officer and the public at the scene of Ainamoi MP David Kimutai Toos shooting at West Indies in Eldoret Town on January 31, this year. Photo/Jared Nyataya

Commonly referred to as Principal, his name is still invoked at every political forum in the constituency. Prospective candidates are pledging to actualise the development projects he had promised in his campaigns for the seat in last years General Election.

Mr Too was shot dead soon after members of Parliament were sworn in. The killing inflamed passions in a constituency that had been hit hard by the political violence that rocked the country after the disputed presidential elections.

Thousands had fled the area, especially from Swahili, Mombasa Ndogo, Kambi-Somali and Nyagacho estates in Kericho Town after they were targeted for retribution and their houses and business premises torched and looted.

Front runner

Many of them are still holed up in camps for the displaced in Nakuru, Nyamira, Kisii and Naivasha.

The Ainamoi by-election has attracted more than 20 contenders, with the ODM being the ticket of choice.

An early front runner for the party nomination is a brother of the felled MP, Mr Benjamin Langat. He is likely to get a lot of sympathy votes.

Mr Langat has the support of some key Rift Valley ODM figures, including Agriculture minister William Ruto, Belgut MP Charles Keter and Kipkelion MP Magerer Langat.

This was demonstrated at Mr Toos funeral in February when Mr Ruto and Mr Keter told the Ainamoi people to ensure that the seat remained in the family.

In the presence of the areas former MP Noah arap Too, Mr Ruto introduced Mr Langat as a responsible person.

But Mr Langat will not have it all his own way.

Another strong contender for the seat is retired Kenya Army general John Koech, who vied in 2007, but lost to Mr Too in the ODM nominations.

Unlike other nomination losers who decamped from ODM to other parties, Mr Koech chose to stay put in the party and helped lead ODM campaigns across Rift Valley.

Others who want to try their luck are newcomers David Kitur, the chief executive of Micro LAN Company, and Dr Paul Chepkwony, a former Moi University lecturer.

Other strong contenders for the ODM nomination include lawyer Onesmus Langat, Henry Rop, Job Chirchir, Ezekiel Ngeny, Andrew Maritim, Paul Chirchir, Gideon Koros, Julius Kiplangat Kirui and Mrs Anna Kibet, a clinical officer.

A comeback

Also in the race are radio personality Parveen Sigey, who has quit his job with Royal Media Groups Kalenjin language station, Chamge FM, to try his hand in politics, and a former Kericho Day Secondary School principal, Mr Paul Yaem.

Trying to make a comeback at the Ainamoi by-election are two former MPs, Mr Ayub Chepkwony and Mr Kiptarus Kirior, who served as assistant ministers in Mr Daniel arap Mois government.

The two are banking on past experience to regain the seat they occupied when it was part of Belgut constituency. The constituency was created in 1997.

Two former Kericho Town councillors, Joel Siele and Samuel Rugut are also vying for the prized ODM ticket.

Mr Stephen Kipkurui, a former district education officer, wants to run on a PNU ticket. Mr Joseph Mosonik and Mr John Kibet Keino eye the Kanu and Agano party tickets respectively.

The United Democratic Movement (UDM) hopes to bag the seat, which would be its second. Its only MP is Kericho lawyer Joseph Kirui.

Meanwhile, the ODM aspirants have told the party headquarters to ensure transparency in the exercise so that only the best candidate wins.

Speaking to Nation, the aspirants say that missing names in ballot papers and other anomalies should not be allowed to recur, as happened last year.

The growing dissent among ODM faithful in the wider Kericho region will be something to watch during the campaigns.

After the formation of the grand coalition Cabinet, there were perceptions that the Kipsigis had been short-changed.

During a meeting held at Tea Research Foundation of Kenya last month, seven ODM MPs threatened to form a political party to serve their interests. They were Dr Julius Kones, Mr Franklin Bett, Mr Magerer Langat, Mr Zakayo Cheruiyot, Mr Isaac Ruto and Energy assistant minister Charles Keter

This is a warning that the local political elite may back a candidate from an alternative party if the ODM nominations are not handled fairly.

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African Press International – api

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