Poll races in Rift dominated by ‘two horses’

The race for governorship in four counties in the Rift Valley has, interestingly, narrowed down to only two candidates.

In Kericho, Bomet, Uasin Gishu and Baringo counties, only two candidates will square it out for the top seat, one being from Jubilee, the dominant political party in the region and a competitor from either Kanu, Chama Cha Mashinani or an Independent.

Other counties including Turkana, West Pokot and Nandi would be having two candidates save for the fact that there are independent counterparts giving them a run for their money.

KALENJINS
Their numbers are nothing compared to the neighbouring Kisii and Nyamira counties, which have a whopping nine and 11 candidates for governorship respectively.

Mombasa has eight while Kisumu attracted only five.

Mr Joel Soi, a political science lecturer at Maasai Mara University attributed the few number of aspirants in the Rift Valley counties to the perceived loyalty of Kalenjins to the powers that be.

“In Rift Valley, Kalenjins especially are not eager to go against the grain, except those who have money and feel they can challenge the forces,” Mr Soi said.

RUTO VERSUS LABOSO
Kericho’s incumbent Governor Paul Chepkwony, who has been appointed to spearhead Jubilee campaigns in the South Rift, will now face off with Jonah Rotich, the Kanu candidate, for the seat.

This is after Ainamoi legislator Benjamin Langat, after unfruitful efforts to clinch the governorship ticket, decided to seek re-election as an independent candidate.

The much-touted battle for Bomet seat, as had been rightly anticipated, pits incumbent Isaac Ruto of Chama Cha Mashinani (CCM) and National Assembly Deputy Speaker Joyce Laboso, who is the Jubilee Party’s flag-bearer.

CDF USAGE

Dr Laboso enjoys solitary backing of the ruling party after her competitor in the nominations, Dr Julius Kones, accepted defeat and decided to back her.

Dr Kones hopes to be enlisted as an East Africa Legislative Assembly nominee by the party.

To market her bid, Dr Laboso refers to her positive development track record as a Sotik MP having been listed among the best in the use of Constituency Development Funds by the board.

NASA MEMBER

On the other hand, the self-styled Governor Ruto, described by pundits as a political powerhouse, is admired by many for his hard stance, resilience in pushing his agendas and being a man of his own mind.

It remains to be seen how his position in the opposition National Super Alliance (Nasa) would affect his political fortunes.

In Uasin Gishu County, had Zedekiah Bundotich (Buzeki) shelved his ambition to run for governorship after being defeated in the Jubilee Party primaries by incumbent Jackson Mandago, the latter would have been unopposed during the August 8 General Election.

The rich business man, who joined the alliance of independent candidates, has promised Mr Mandago a gruesome duel.

THIRD FORCE

But the governor has laughed off the threat as too little, too late.

Mr Bundotich had been branded as a project of Deputy President William Ruto, leading a rebellion for a section of Uasin Gishu and Nandi leaders who rallied behind Mr Mandago.

Baringo, on the other hand, offers an interesting narrative as its gubernatorial race revolves around two newcomers, following the defeat of incumbent Benjamin Cheboi in the Jubilee primaries by Mr Stanley Kiptis.

Mr Kiptis will face it off with Kanu’s Isaac Bomett.

Mr Soi says Rift Valley has three forces coalescing around Jubilee Party, Kanu with CCM being a third force.

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