North and South Rift Risk Splitting as Deputy President Faces Rejection From Both

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Sotoonik, popular Kalenjin gourds

Deputy President William Samoei Ruto, in Belgut, Kericho County has been quoted in a campaign rally ahead of senatorial elections, as saying, “…I Ruto, as I address you here, my father, Arap Samoei Cheruiyot was born in Kiptere, (Sigowet/Soin sub-county, Kericho County) of the Kapkomosindet clan. Am I a Nandi or Kipsigis?

(Crowd: ‘You’re a Kipsigis’)

Nandi and Kipsigis are relatives or not?

(Crowd: ‘They’re’)

Even if I speak Nandi dialect yet the blood belongs to Kipsigis, do I belong to Kalenjin or not?

(Crowd: ‘You belong’)

Then someone is telling us that Kipsigis (in South Rift) and Nandis (in North Rift) should part ways… Someone who is stupid; who cannot differentiate between yesterday and today… Listen to me, people of Rift Valley, we must remain united and speak one voice.”

He had recently apologized desperately to Kipsigis people for allegations that he is failing to heed their opinions, unbalancing resource distribution and the development programs that residents of South Rift claim have been discriminated. Rift Valley is now a house divided as North and South Rift differs on leadership,  politics and party affiliations.

It started when the perceived Kalenjin kingpin Ruto rushed without clear consultations to merge United Republican Party (URP) with TNA in an attempt to form Jubilee Alliance Party that him and President Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta intend to use to defend their presidency in 2017. His rush to dissolve URP was met with rejections from leaders in the North and South Rift that forms the largest and vote-rich defunct Rift Valley province. Leaders had highly suspected TNA’s betrayal that indeed has delayed to dissolve their party.

South Rift claims that he remembers them only when he needs to be supported or joined in his opinions. As if that’s not enough, his political nemesis Bomet County Governor Isaac Ruto downplayed Deputy’s apology as a mere political gimmick and promised him that he’ll be in for another shock, and make more apologies in future.

Evident with Nyangores Ward by-elections on February 12 in Bomet County, People’s Patriotic Party of Kenya (PPPK) candidate beat Jubilee hands down. More surprises are expected to emerge from Kericho County senatorial elections results from two top candidates for Jubilee and KANU Mr Aaron Cheruiyot and Paul Sang respectively, with the later likely to win.

William Ruto’s rejections has escalated beyond South Rift. Residents in Nandi (part of the North Rift) has oftenly complained of Ruto’s discriminations. Since he was supported to ascend into power, it is alleged that he has only visited Nandi County twice, and once with the President of Kenya where nothing much was done but PR and a church fundraiser.

One of the reasons Ruto is facing  rebellion in Nandi is the stalled Koitaleel Samoei University College. It was romoured twice about his visit with the president to commission the Nairobi University branch campus, but he (nor the president) never came. At some point in time, the college was said to be transfered to Mosoriot Teachers College under the pretense that facilities lacked in Nandi Hills.

Some local politicians are now making fun of Ruto’s political clichè: the “Tumetenga…” clause. His #Tumetenga clichè used to promise a lot but nothing much has ever been seen since when he clinched to power.

#Tumetenga is a Swahili word meaning ‘set aside’ usually used in meetings to tell residents that good things have been set aside for development programs.

KANU party is slowly refreshing fame and the lost glory decades ago. With the new leaders vying from KANU tickets, many Kalenjins are now deflecting from Jubilee to support uprising KANU leaders. Party’s Secretary General Nick Salat has expressed confidence that with the ongoing massive sensitization, KANU will eventually clinch the senatorial seat in the upcoming Kericho elections.

Arise Nandi®
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