Sharp divisions have emerged among Nasa candidates in Narok, with those from the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) accusing Chama Cha Mashinani (CCM) party leader Isaac Ruto of abetting partisanship, a claim that could affect the popularity of the opposition in the county.
In an interview with the Nation on Monday, Narok ODM governorship candidate Joseph Tiampati ole Musuni and Narok North MP Moitalel ole Kenta singled out Nasa co-principal Ruto as biased.
They said it was wrong for the Bomet governor to openly endorse candidates allied to his party.
The group now wants ODM leader and Nasa flagbearer Raila Odinga to come out and equally support his party’s candidates.
“We witnessed this during the recent tour of the region by the Nasa leaders,” Mr Musuni said.
“Mr Ruto has been providing resources and support for CCM Narok governorship candidate Patrick Ntutu and has been asking people to vote for him.”
Nasa principals should let the electorate take their pick among the Nasa candidates, Mr Musuni said, and added: “Mr Ruto should be neutral, just like Mr Odinga, who, despite being the flagbearer, has remained silent.”
Mr Musuni, who in the last election came second to Governor Samuel Tunai, who is seeking re-election on a Jubilee Party ticket, said their allegiance and loyalty to the Nasa flagbearer was direct, not through a proxy.
He said despite Mr Ruto having been given a chance to control Rift Valley, the Narok people did not recognise that because he is already partisan.
“We treat him as a competitor and he should know that ODM is a strong party. We demand that Mr Odinga supports us,” he said.
Mr Kenta said they refused to join Jubilee because they felt that they were being controlled by Deputy President William Ruto to the extent of being blocked from accessing power.
“The Maasai community was being treated like an appendix or extension of the Kalenjin community in Jubilee. We were denied our space and treated unfairly,” Mr Kenta said.
“We were marginalised and had to join ODM before the formation of Nasa.”
Mr Kenta, who is seeking re-election, said the Maasai are demanding their space in Nasa.
Said the MP: “Isaac Ruto is purporting to take the place of William Ruto. We are being subjected to the same treatment as in Jubilee. It is even worse because it is a one-man show.”
The ODM legislator said the notion that CCM seeks to have taken over as the party for the Maasai was untrue and called on Mr Odinga to come out clearly on the issue.
“He should tell us whether he has surrendered his authority to CCM and his ODM people for CCM candidates,” he said, adding that they were determined to fight for their political space in Nasa through ODM.
“We will directly deliver votes, as the Maasai community, to Odinga and not through proxies. He should recognise that our votes are important for his victory.”
Mr Ruto however seemed to skirt around the issue when contacted.
“All candidates in Nasa affiliate parties are free to campaign for themselves in various regions and the best candidate will be picked by the voters, who have the final say in the matter,” the governor said.
The Nasa co-principal noted that the main focus should be for Nasa to deliver the presidency and as many elective seats as possible against Jubilee in Rift Valley in the August 8 General Election.
Mr Ruto said he had held several rallies in Narok jointly with CCM candidates led by Mr Ntutu, Woman Rep hopeful Lydia Ntimama and those in ODM, including Mr Ledama ole Kina (Senate) and Ms Rebecca Tonkei (Woman Rep).
Sources close to him however stated that Mr Musuni had kept off the meetings, choosing instead to hold separate ones.
The governor also explained his absence from some Nasa rallies.
“I have been absent from a number of rallies with the full knowledge of the other four principals in the coalition as I have to concentrate on coordinating and campaigning for Nasa in Rift Valley,” Mr Ruto said.
He added: “Winning over voters in the vast, voter-rich Rift Valley region is key to Nasa campaigns.”
His presence was not necessarily required in areas traditionally considered as the bedrock of Nasa affiliate parties, he added.
The governor’s statement was informed by political spins by his competitors that his absence was a pointer to the Nasa principals reading from different scripts on election matters and the campaign.
Mr Ruto has hosted the Nasa principals five times in Rift Valley in the past two months with rallies in Nakuru County, Salawa and Marigat in Baringo, Kapenguria in West Pokot and Kapsabet in Nandi.
He has also attended rallies twice in Nairobi as well as last week’s manifesto launch.