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The political war between Raila and Ruto has started: Who will control Rift Valley votes in 2012?

Posted by African Press International on August 24, 2008

News Analysis By Leo Odera Omolo

In the 9th Parliament members of the Kipsigis community were represented by a total number of eleven MPs. The community then had its root in all major political parties.

But in the 10Th Parliament, this same community banked its hopes in the Orange Democratic Party of the Prime Minister Raila Amolo Odinga and bugged a total of nine MPs for the ODM,but none of the members were considered for nomination to the Parliament.

In the 2002, the late Kipkalya Kones was a Presidential running mate of Ford People party leader Simeon Nyachae. Kones lost his seat in Bomet constituency to the youthful KANU aspirant Nick Salat,but was later nominated by the party to Parliament.

KANU which shared the same number of seats with LDP nominated Dr.Esther Keino to Parliament,while the LDP picked Franklin Bett as its parliamentary nominee.

The Kipsigis ,the most populous subtribe of the larger Kalenjin ethnic groups stands as the bedrock of the Rift Valley Province and plays the most significant political role in the region.

In 2007,the ODM swept the board in all the eight parliamentary constituencies which are scattered in five administrative districts namely, Kericho,Bureti,Sotik,bomet and Kipkellion. It unceremoniously ended the nearly 42 years of uninterrupted KANU political dominace of the South Rift region.

Those who went to Parlaiment on ODM ticket were Dr.Julius Kones (Konoin),Franklin Bett (Buret) Charles Keter (Belgut),Isaac Ruto (Chepalungu) Magaret Langat (Kipkellion),Lorna Laboso (Sotik),David K Too (Ainamoi) and Kipkalia Kones (Bomet)

The community bugged another important seat in the diaspora that of Kuresoi in the newly created Molo district where the former powerful PS in the moi regime Zakayo K Cheruiyot won a popular vote for the ODM.

All these electoral parliamentary constituencies were for many years had remained steadfastly in the hand of KANU until the euphoric of the ODM waves changed the political dimension of the South Rift.

And soon after the 2007 general elections two names of prominent Kipsigis political elite whose active participation in the ODM elections campaigns were proposed by the elected MPs for consideration for nomination to Parliament.

The persons whose names were proposed and submitted to the ODM hierarchy for nomination were the former deputy CGS Lt Gen (rtd) John Koech and a prominent gender campaigner Mrs Rachel yegon. Both had contested the election on ODM ticket but lost in the party primaries ,but were later to become big asset in the party campaign in the region and its eventual victory which locked out and sealed the fate of KANU in Kipsigis land.

Gen Koech who has now ditched ODM and took over the mantle of UDM party leadership was arguably the man who became an instrumental tool for the ODM victories not only in the Kipsigis region but in the entire Kalenjin Community.

But the newly MP David Too who had beaten the General in a much flawed ODM nomination system, the retired and highly respected former Army Commander stood again and contested the Ainamoi seat in the by-election ,but this time around he was rigged out for the second time having been rigged out in the 2007 for the first time.

Political pundits and local observers were quick in pointing their finger at the Eldoret North MP William Ruto and the Belgut MP Charles Keter accusing the two for having allegedly conspired with others to ensure that only weak and inexperienced candidates who could be prone to political manipulation won the seats in the South Rift region.

The two its further being alleged were also not happy with Raila Odinga closeness to the late Kipkalya Kones and the late Lorna Laboso.

In the cabinet appointment in the grand coalition government Raila Odinga picked Kones and Laboso for ministerial posts mainly due to their unwavering loyalty to the ODMM. Rutoʼs camp had proposed other names, but only Keter survived when he was named as assistant Minister for Energy.

It later emerged that Raila Odinga avoided the names of those MPs whose loyalty to the ODM was questionable and those alleged to have been in secret contacts with KANU.

There was hue and cry for the ODM flawed and much abused nomination susytem,but the partyʼs hierarchy did not adequately addressed the issue to the satisfaction o f the electorate and the stakeholders.

And because of turning deaf ears to the general cow pants of its poor corrupt and highly manipulated nomination system,ODM has lost a sizeable number hitherto unchallenged supremacy in Kipsigis land.

The man who was architect for its victory in the region Lt Gen (rtd) Koech has ditched the party and neatly taken over the leadership of the previously adamant and run down United Democratic Movement (UDM) with a completely changed new faces of the registered national officials. UDM is now said to be making major inroads in Kipsigis land in expectation of the inevitable major fallout between Raila Odinga and the Minister for Agriculture William Ruto before the year 2012.

UDM blames Ruto for having made sure that the Nandis a majority community compared to the Kispsigis bugged three cabinet slots in the grand coalition government whereas the Kipsigis a sub-tribe which gave the ODM and Raila Odinga a total of 1.3 million votes in 2007 was locked out of the cabinet with only Kones being appointed to the cabinet due to the insistence of Raila Odinga who had faith on the late Minister as a staunch ODM supporter.

The new UDM group, a party in which Ruto was predictably expected to fall back on the event of the expected fallout are said to be having soft heart for Raila Odinga ,but have no love lost for William Ruto and has vowed to have his men and agents rooted out of Kipsigis land. The group see the over ambitious Ruto as someone who is playing the divide and rule tactics of the former Moi KANU regime in the Kipsigis region.

Gen Koech said during a lengthy interview with this writer that the new UDM leadership is out to bring to an end the many years of frustration and maginalization of the Kipsigis by the cousins from the North Rift,the Nandis,Turgens and Keiyos. The party has launched an elaborate programme to popularize itself in the South Rift region hoping to capitalize on the ongoing discontent over the planned Mau Forest evictions ina dispute representation of the Kipsigis community in the grand coalition government ,which are all balmed on Rutoʼs political manipulation scheme.

Ruto, the UDM claim is applying double standard on Raila Odinga citing the recent controversial meeting between the PM and Kipsigis elders and MPs as well as the professionals and civic leaders inKericho. During the tension charged encounter the PM was humiliated and embarrassed by Rutoʼs political cronies led by Keter in a plan hatched to humiliate raila as a friend turned enemy of the community.

Ruto did not attend the meeting but his men on the ground were properly briefed on what to tell Raila, but Rutoʼs political manipulation mechanism was exposed . It has something to do with 2012 general election in which Ruto has already his working machineries on the ground to route Railaʼs influence out of Rift Valley so that he could himself become the President or Prime Minister in the next government in a coalition with PNU.




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