The Kipsigis Council of Elders on Wednesday endorsed Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto’s move to join the National Super Alliance.
The Myoot elders and clan said the governor, who is also the Chama Cha Mashinani leader, joined Nasa after seeking their blessings on the political direction he will take in the August elections.
Elders’ leader Philip Milgo and secretary Edwin Kimeto said they had “permitted” him to talk with Nasa and Jubilee Party but the ruling coalition slammed its doors on them.
“Nasa’s doors were widely open and welcomed the governor to talk with the party principals,” the elders said after a meeting with the governor at the Centre of Devolved Governance in Bomet town.
Governor Ruto is an outspoken critic of Deputy President William Ruto, the Jubilee Party’s second in command. He claimed that the DP does not respect the Kipsigis.
“My move to join Nasa should not be misconstrued to mean that I have folded Mashinani party. We are joining Nasa as equal partners,” he said.
Mr Milgo and Mr Kimeto said they were perturbed that Jubilee leadership referred to the governor’s Mashinani party as a movement of “Mashakani, Mashimoni, Mashetani and Takataka”.
Mr Ruto’s main challenger, Joyce Laboso, termed the Mashinani association with Nasa as “reckless”.
In Nairobi, the Sotik MP and Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, accused her opponent of misreading the mood on the ground, and misrepresenting Bomet as an opposition stronghold.
“The residents of Bomet are part of the Jubilee government and are behind President Uhuru Kenyatta and DP William Ruto, who embody the values of respect and development,” she said in a statement.
In Nasa, Mr Ruto would become the fifth principal after Raila Odinga, Musalia Mudavadi, Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetang’ula.
But Dr Laboso, who will compete against Mr Ruto if she wins in the Jubilee nominations this weekend, trashed the move.
“While it is everyone’s democratic right to join any party or alliance of their choice, it is reckless and unwise to attempt to persuade our people to join the opposition,” she said.
Dr Laboso is Mr Ruto’s strongest challenger for the governorship race, according to latest opinion poll. The survey by Infotrak published last week showed Dr Laboso just slightly behind Ruto in popularity ratings.
Of the 800 respondents in Bomet, Mr Ruto leads with 38.9 per cent followed by Dr Laboso at 37.7 per cent. Dr Julius Kones, who will challenge Dr Laboso for the Jubilee ticket, follows the two at 7.3 per cent.
According to the survey, Jubilee was more popular in the county than Mashinani with every seven in 10 people saying they support the party led by President Kenyatta.
“There is neither hope nor future in opposition. It is only gloom and despair,” said Dr Loboso.