RUTO, GIDEON BATTLE OVER RIFT AHEAD OF 2017 POLLS

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RUTO-ICCA vicious supremacy turf war has erupted between Deputy President William Ruto and Baringo Senator Gideon Moi over control of Rift Valley politics ahead of the 2017 polls.

Gideon, the youngest and favourite son of retired President Daniel arap Moi, is said to be fighting to wrestle the region from Ruto’s grip and consequently block the DP’s bid to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta. The senator is said to enjoy a cozy relationship with Uhuru dating back to the 1970s.

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Uhuru’s allies have previously said the President will support Ruto for the presidency in 2022, when his second term in office comes to an end should he be re-elected in 2017.

But the Moi family, which is understood to be uncomfortable with the idea of Ruto succeeding Uhuru, is working in overdrive to neutralise the DP’s popularity in his Rift Valley backyard in a fierce (and early) post-Uhuru political game plan.

“There are serious supremacy battles pitting Ruto against the Moi family. We know there was an agreement between retired President Moi and the Kenyatta family on the presidency,” a URP legislator who is familiar with the silent wars told the Star in an interview.

“Now that the Kenyatta family is ruling, Moi is not comfortable with the seat going to Ruto. Moi is working to neutralise Ruto’s influence in the Rift Valley ahead of the 2017 polls.”

The MP said Moi’s game plan is to clip Ruto’s popularity in his backyard so that “he has little to bring to the table” in 2017.

The political supremacy wars have sucked in Moi and Ruto’s closest allies in Rift Valley. Kanu is seizing on the negative impact of the KDF operation in Kapedo to woo a number of URP legislators into deserting   the DP. KDF was deployed in Kapedo in the wake of the massacre a month ago of 21 people, 19 of them Administration Police officers.

Another MP, who sought anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, told the Star on the phone that a section of both Kanu and URP MPs are using the ongoing security operation in West Pokot to undermine Ruto. They have accused the DP of doing little to stop the operation, which they allege is abetting gross violation of human rights.

“The game plan is that Ruto loses popularity in the Pokot community. They have unleashed propaganda to the effect that he is the one who sanctioned the military operation,” the MP said.

He disclosed that Moi has crafted a strategy to undermine Tiaty MP Asman Kamama, who chairs the powerful parliamentary Committee on Administration and National Security. Kamama is a member of Ruto’s URP, and the DP’s closest ally in Pokot. Some leaders from the area have been calling for his resignation as chair of the committee.

“Moi has already identified Baringo county assembly speaker William Kamket, who is facing incitement charges in court, to succeed Kamama in Tiaty, to dilute Ruto’s influence in the community,” the MP said.

He said Moi wants to empower West Pokot Senator John Lonyangapuo of Kanu to cut Ruto down to size in the region.

But Ruto and his team are not taking this lightly. The DP has directed the URP members of the Baringo county assembly to ensure Kamket is impeached and removed as Speaker, and the position taken by an earmarked MCA. The MCAs have already suspended Kamket, citing the case he is facing in court. Kamket was arrested for incitement after he said the Pokot cattle-rustling raids on neighbours were not criminal actions, “merely restocking”.

The power games got to an all-time low last week after the state sought to arrest Sigor MP Philip Rotino and prosecute him over incitement of the community against the KDF operation.

A delegation of West Pokot MPs consequently met Uhuru last Friday night at State House, Nairobi, where they pleaded with him to intervene and prevent the arrest.

In November eight Pokot leaders snubbed a peace meeting attended by the DP in protest over the ongoing military operation in Kapedo, an action that complicates Ruto’s grip on the Rift Valley region.

Kacheliba MP Mark Lomunokol (URP) and his Pokot South counterpart David Pkosing (URP) have said they will review their stand in government if the Jubilee administration does not stop the KDF operation.

But Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen downplayed the objections. He said the matter was being blown out of proportion and that Ruto was still in control.

“The DP is still and remains influential in the Rift Valley. Those capitalising on security challenges to propagate divisive politics will be in for a rude shock,” he told the Star on the phone.

“Let us unite in addressing the issues affecting our people and stop reading too much into situations that are quite normal – 2017 is far away and at the moment our energies remain focused on solving the problems facing Kenyans.”

All the intrigues are however likely to leave Uhuru stronger in Rift Valley, especially after the elder Moi ordered Kanu officials to ensure that they do not do anything to undermine his presidency and must let him finish two complete terms.

– the-star.co.ke

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