Inside Politics

It’s a catch-22 for Ruto in race for Bomet Senate seat

Friday, May 27th, 2022 07:25 | By
UDA Bomet Senate candidate (centre, in white cap) addresses his supporters at a past political rally. PD/FILE

Deputy President William Ruto has indicated he will not shy away from stamping authority in his Rift Valley backyard even if any endorsement of aspirants vying on his United Democratic Alliance will attract fervent opposition.

A week ago, he took on Kesses MP Swarup Mishra for defending his seat as an independent candidate, asking the electorate to “send him home” in favour of the UDA aspirant.

Ruto’s remarks sent chills down the spine of hopefuls on other outfits in the vast region.

The decision to directly target Mishra, the first-term Jubilee lawmaker who he campaigned for in 2017, has put hundreds of other candidates vying for various seats either as independent or on other parties under Kenya Kwanza Alliance on tenterhooks. 

In Bomet where Chama Cha Mashinani enjoys greater support than other counties in the Rift Valley, it remains unclear whether the DP will have the courage to campaign for UDA hopefuls considering the opposition he faced the last time he tried.

In the battle for the Senate race, for instance, one of the DP’s closest allies is right in the mix further intensifying the dilemma he may find himself in on Bomet politics. 

The governor’s race has already given him a headache as former Bomet Governor and Chama Cha Mashinani leader Isaac Ruto, who has declared his total support for his presidential bid, is seeking to recapture the seat he lost in 2017.

Bomet Governor Hillary Barchok, the UDA candidate, is not only defending his seat but also heading the party’s campaigns in the county.

In the Senate race, it is more complicated as lawyer Hillary Sigei won the UDA nominations and will fly the party’s flag.

Mends fences

Sigei was handed the certificate after the hotly disputed primaries in April despite lengthy protestations by incumbent Senator Christopher Lang’at and former Kenya National Union of Secretary-General Wilson Sossion.

They claimed they had been rigged in favour of Sigei but the party dismissed their protests.

Lang’at decamped and will be defending his seat as an independent candidate.  Sossion on the other hand has since mended fences with UDA and has been incorporated in the Kenya Kwanza national campaigns.

CCM has also fielded Enock Kemei, who will be seeking to break the UDA stranglehold in the county

Sigei is among senior lawyers in Ruto’s inner circle.  He has worked closely with Ruto’s allies and has represented most of them in court since 2018 when they have fallen victim to State aggression after the DP fell out with President Uhuru Kenyatta. 

In 2020, he was one of the advocates defending Emurua Dikirr MP Johana Ngeno and Kapseret counterpart Oscar Sudi when they were arrested and charged in Nakuru for insulting the first family. He is also a partner in Sing’oei, Murkomen and Sigei (SMS) law firm.

Sigei yesterday told People Daily he was confident he would win the seat, and promised to inject vibrancy to the Senate and ensure Bomet was well represented in the House.

“What we have lacked before is good representation and visibility required in the House. Once we get that, it will be easier to raise issues affecting our people. It is what I intend to do if I am elected,” he said.

Cash crop

Some of the issues he said he will pursue are the enhancement of tea prices and youth unemployment. Tea is the top cash crop in the county.

“We have the Tea Act that was sponsored by Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot. It is a good law but we need to improve it so that our people can feel its impact. There is also the major issue on tea-plucking machines that I will be pursuing so we find a solution to it,” he said.  

He also plans to set up an incubation hub to harness and refine talents. “We have hundreds of local musicians who need to be nurtured and exposed to better means of income. I also intend to put up structures to nurture our athletes.”

So far, no one has been able to defend the seat since 2013 although Lang’at will be attempting to break this cycle.

The first Senator Wilfred Lesan lost in 2017 and has taken a backseat in politics although he attempted to become the assembly Speaker in 2020 only to suffer the ignominy of garnering 0 votes in the Assembly.

Lang’at has declared his readiness to overturn the odds against his reelection, telling off Ruto’s allies who have been calling for six-piece voting as he asked voters not to give them an ear. 

 “You cannot tell people to vote suit (six-piece suit). Stop telling people to vote uniform. Vote for an individual and do not let anyone lie to you to vote for someone because of a party,” the Senator said.

“Those telling you to vote for them and vote for someone else in their party are trying to ambush you into their thieving schemes.”  Kemei could not be reached on phone despite several attempts but his party leader, Isaac, has beseeched the DP and his allies to let people vote for anyone in the 11 outfits under Kenya Kwanza in the region.

 “We fully support the DP for president but in Bomet we are saying it is mix and match because all parties are equal. If they want UDA or CCM it is okay,” Ruto said.

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