Raila Odinga South Rift campaign left in limbo
The surprise pulling out of former Bomet governor Isaac Ruto from NASA to Jubilee left the NASA flag bearer, Raila Odinga, without a significant point man in the South Rift region.
“When I looked over my shoulder (after the August 8 General Election) I found myself alone and that is why I decided I cannot lead only a few people to Canaan. I am now back home (Jubilee).”
“I was misled and cheered as I went astray. We literally started politics with President Uhuru Kenyatta and the Deputy President William Ruto and when they came looking for me to join them, I couldn’t say No to them” said Ruto during the historical Kapkatet stadium rally on Friday.
During the lead up to the polls, Ruto was instrumental in organising major campaign rallies for the Opposition team in South Rift.
According to University of Kabianga (UoK) political science lecturer Joel Soi, Ruto’s exit will not add any significant votes to Jubilee in the October 17 presidential election.
“Odinga got around 60,000 votes in Kericho and Bomet County and the fact is that most of those votes were cast by members of the Luo, Luhya and other non-members of the Kalenjin community residing within tea estates and urban estates,” he said.
He nonetheless said Ruto’s exit had dealt a blow to NASA’s physiological welfare.
“The idea that members of the Kalenjin community were in NASA, boosted the morale of the Opposition and their supporters but his exit will mellow down NASA and is likely to lead other influential politicians who might have stuck with NASA before the August polls to change their minds too,” said Soi.
But Kericho County Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) chairperson, lawyer Stella Koech, said they will still soldier on.
“When you look at the 2013 General election, Isaac Ruto was not with us and Odinga garnered around 25,000 votes in Kericho alone. In the bungled August 8 General Election, Odinga was reported to have got 19,000 votes. We believe the figures were minimized and the repeat presidential election will set the record straight,” she said.
Ruto, who was defeated by Bomet Governor Joyce Laboso in the August polls, had recently vowed that he would not ditch NASA for the Jubilee Party.
“I am in NASA to stay. I have decided to maintain a low profile to allow Bomet people to settle. I know the election was marred with a lot of irregularities since government machinery were used to intimidate my supporters,” said Ruto.
“I am Chama Cha Mashinani (CCM) party leader. How can I defect to another political outfit. Jubilee has not approached me but I have seen things blown out of proportion on social media,” he added.
He described himself as a ‘wounded general’ at war, saying NASA is a coalition and that he may decide to join the Opposition campaign rallies or maintain a low profile.