Kenya Kwanza is piling pressure on Kanu chairman Gideon Moi to support Deputy President William Ruto in his State House, as it works round the clock to solidify the Kalenjin vote.
Kenya Kwanza leaders insist the Baringo senator was shortchanged in the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition party, after Kanu failed to secure any influential post in the agreement unveiled last week by its presidential flag-bearer Raila Odinga.
Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen now claims he had a candid conversation with his Baringo counterpart, who had high hopes that President Uhuru Kenyatta would back his 2022 presidential bid.
During a thanksgiving prayer service for UDA nominees in Baringo County on Sunday, the Kenya Kwanza brigade urged Mr Moi to cross over and join them, terming themselves the winning team.
Mr Murkomen said that Mr Moi had hinted at his plans after being re-elected to the Senate in 2017 and he wanted to focus on national politics.
“The moment he landed in Nairobi after being re-elected in 2017, he called me aside and reiterated the need for Kalenjin unity. He was categorical that he was now saying goodbye to county politics and focusing on [becoming] the President of Kenya,” said Murkomen.
He stated that in their candid conversation at the Senate, his counterpart intimated that he was President Uhuru Kenyatta’s preferred candidate and he had promised to endorse him for the presidency.
Mr Murkomen claimed that he told him that if that was the case, they should convince the DP to rally behind Mr Moi if President Kenyatta endorsed him for the presidency.
“I am now surprised to hear that he is opting to defend his Senate seat in Baringo. He has been dilly-dallying and we are not sure which side of the political divide he is on and time is running out,” said the Senator, who likened Mr Moi’s planned move as equivalent to going to university then deciding to go back to nursery school.
In a bid to solidify the Kalenjin votes, Mr Murkomen has urged his Baringo counterpart to rally behind DP Ruto for two terms before he would be considered for the top seat.
Senator Moi’s plan to defend his seat is said to be causing political jitters in the DP’s camp, which was almost sure of clinching the seat after Baringo North MP William Cheptumo won by a landslide in the UDA party primaries in April.
Mr Cheptumo garnered 69,420 votes against Isaiah Kirukmet’s 45,681.
Mr Silas Tochim received 13,633 votes, Bishop Jackson Kosgei 7,518 and Mr Daniel Taringo 4,027.
Defending Senate seat
Kanu has submitted Mr Moi’s name to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to defend his seat for the third time, party secretary-general Nick Salat has confirmed.
"It is true that our party’s election board forwarded the senator’s name to defend his seat,” he said.
Nandi Governor Stephen Sang said the Nandi community had supported the late Daniel Moi’s presidency for 24 years and it was now the turn of the Tugen in Baringo to rally behind DP Ruto to return the favour by supporting him.
“The Nandi gave unwavering support to the late Moi, who ruled this country for 24 years. Baringo County should now return the favour, with the junior Moi leading the pack. The senator should now be informed that he has a debt to pay by supporting the DP,” Governor Sang said.
Amani National Congress (ANC) party leader Musalia Mudavadi weighed in on the matter, saying Azimio la Umoja gave a raw deal to Senator Moi and Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka in the recent pact.
“I was in One Kenya Alliance (OKA) and I saw this coming. I told Ford-Kenya party leader Moses Wetang’ula that it was time for us to leave. It was just like [we were in] a holding ground waiting to be taken to a slaughterhouse. Now see, Moi and Kalonzo have been left at the crossroads,” Mr Mudavadi said.
“Kalonzo has been held hostage and has no permission to exit as the coalition agreement has sealed all loopholes for disengaging.”
In September last year, Senator Moi was endorsed as Kanu’s presidential candidate at the party’s national delegates conference at the Bomas of Kenya.
Before the endorsement, he received blessings from elders and clerics from his Baringo backyard.
At the time, he exuded confidence that he would clinch the presidency in the August 9 polls to succeed President Kenyatta when he announced at his home in Sacho, Baringo Central, that he would seek the top seat.
In his address to locals and party’s delegates at his home, Mr Moi claimed that he had gained enough experience to lead the nation, promising that he won’t disappoint Kenyans.
“I have served as an MP for five years and a senator for two terms and I am ‘oiled’ enough to take the mantle from President Kenyatta in 2022. The future is bright because I want the best for my community and Kenyans as well,” said Mr Moi at the time.
“I made up my mind to be in the presidential race because I saw that there are a lot of things Kenyans need me to do for them. This will come true if they vote me in.”
Not backing down
The senator also insisted that he was not backing down and wooed his community to support him in his political journey.
“I have already made a decision and I am not backing down, however tough the duel gets. I am only asking my community to support me in this journey and not backstab me. If I lose, I will have lost humbly and if I win, it will play to our advantage as well. I am very optimistic that we will trounce our opponents to clinch the presidency,” he said.
He added: “I am your own son and you had enough confidence to vote for me as an MP for five years and a senator for two terms. I appreciate your love and generosity to vote and entrust me as your leader. We should also walk the journey together to the State House because I promise not to disappoint you.”
His sentiments were also echoed by his allies, who said the senator was ready to become the fifth President.
The senator has been embroiled in a supremacy battle with DP Ruto, who also hails from the vote-rich Rift Valley.
Kalenjin elders have previously tried, without success, to reconcile the DP and Senator Moi so that they can speak in one voice ahead of the August 9 elections and avoid ‘sibling rivalry’, and those efforts appear to have hit a dead end.
The DP has been describing Mr Moi as a “political greenhorn who is not yet ready for State House” and has repeatedly dismissed Kanu as a party that has lost its footing in the Rift Valley.
Dr Ruto’s allies from the community have also repeatedly referred to Mr Moi as a political novice, insisting that he should instead shelve his presidential ambition and support his brother, who was inching closer to the top seat as has been President Kenyatta’s deputy for two terms.
Mr Murkomen at one time laughed off Mr Moi’s presidential ambitions, describing them as unrealistic.