UDA wave sweeps opponents from Ruto’s Rift strongholds
Deputy President William Ruto has stamped his authority as the undisputed Rift Valley political kingpin after perceived rebels critical of him were shown the door by the electorate.
By yesterday, votes tallied showed that candidates from Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA) were ahead, with more than 70 per cent of the votes tallied.
The results indicated that MPs William Chepkut (Ainabkoi), Swarup Mishra (Kesses), Sila Tiren (Moiben), Vincent Tuwei (Mosop, aka Jembe Nne) and Alfred Keter of Nandi Hills, who vied as independents, were headed to political oblivion.
But the biggest casualty of Ruto’s statement that reverberated across the region one week to the polls is Kanu chairman and Baringo Senator Gideon Moi, who was yesterday trailing William Cheptumo.
A third-term MP for Baringo North, Cheptumo was last evening cruising to victory with 71, 325 votes against Gideon’s 29, 673. Although the votes had not been officially released, Cheptumo hinted that he had — finally — clinched the seat.
“Very impressive,!” he posted on his Facebook page. The move by Gideon to go against the Ruto wave that has dominated the politics of the region in the past few years seemed to have cost him the seat.
During the 2017 election, Gideon promised locals that he would be vying for the presidency in 2022. But after the collapse of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) constitutional amendment bill, and after dilly dallying, he announced that he was going to defend his seat — at the eleventh hour.
Chepkut was trailing former MP and parliamentary Legal Affairs Committee chairman Samuel Chepkonga, whom he floored in 2017.
Yesterday, Chepkut took to social media to concede defeat and congratulate Chepkonga. “To the people of Ainabkoi, thank you for the opportunity you gave me to serve as a Member of Parliament for the past five years. It’s an honour,” Chepkut wrote on his Twitter handle.
“I congratulate @HonChepkonga as he prepares to take office and move Ainabkoi forward. God bless Ainabkoi,” he added.
Chepkut’s critics, among them outgoing Uasin-Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago, had accused him of insincerity by going independent at the last minute, yet he had all along shown interest in UDA.
“Hakuna kitu kama independent (There is nothing like independent). You are either with us or with the enemy. Please don’t spoil our votes by voting for them,” said Mandago, who was leading in the Senate race in the run-up to the election.
Yesterday, Mandago was ahead of his closest challenger, comedian Robert Kemei, an independent candidate.
Phyllis Bartoo also took to social media to express her sentiments. She was ahead of Tiren, a former Agriculture parliamentary committee chairman, by a huge margin in Moiben. “Thank you, my good people of Moiben. Asanteni sana,” she said.
Keter was yesterday trailing UDA’s Bernard Kitur — who was controversially given an UDA ticket despite the former winning the party primaries. In nullifying Keter’s victory in April, UDA cited massive malpractices. This prompted the legislator to vie as an independent candidate.
Perhaps the most surprising case was that of Mishra of Kesses. The results showed he was trailing UDA’s Julius Ruto, despite his philanthropic activities and development projects in the constituency.
Mishra fell out with Ruto recently. He is credited with sponsoring students from humble backgrounds to technical institutions and ensuring that needy families in the constituency receive a dairy cow each for sustenance.
Another casualty was Mogotio MP Daniel Tuitoek. Yesterday, Tuitoek conceded defeat to the youthful Reuben Kiborek after four months of rigorous campaigns. “I would like to congratulate the winner, Kiborek, and wish him well,” he said.
Kiborek, on his part, thanked the people of Mogotio for electing him.
Outspoken Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi yesterday mocked the perceived Rift Valley rebels on his social media pages, saying they dug their own political graves.
Analysts attribute the goings-on to the DP’s plea to North Rift voters during his last rally in the region, where he urged the electorate not to vote in independents and leaders critical of him.
Another candidate on the DP’s radar was Uasin-Gishu’s independent candidate Zedekiah Bundotich, alias Buzeki, who was facing off with UDA’s Jonathan Bii, alias ‘Koti Moja’. Provisional results seen by ‘People Daily’ yesterday indicated that Bii was leading by a huge margin.