Major test for UDA as race to succeed Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago hots up

Jackson Mandago

Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The United Democratic Alliance (UDA), which is associated with Deputy President William Ruto, faces a litmus test as the race to succeed Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago picks up.

Political realignments have heightened the DP’s home turf, with his allies warning those not supporting his presidential quest, which could force contenders to seek out the UDA ticket.

MPs are among those who have declared interest to succeed Mr Mandago, while those who vied for the seat and lost in the last General Election have already hit the ground.

Soy MP Caleb Kositany has declared his interest in the seat, promising to introduce a bottom-up approach in tackling issues affecting the electorate.

“Whoever wants to be a governor must seek community blessings, be ready to be accountable to the electorate and be a God fearing person,” said Mr Kositany, a close confidant of DP Ruto during a church service in Eldoret.

Kenya’s ambassador to Pakistan, Julius Bitok, another ally of DP Ruto who contested in 2013, will be taking a second stab at the seat. According to the envoy, wealth creation through agriculture value addition, youth empowerment, implementation of proper governance structures and partnership with local and international development associates are some of his top priorities if elected.

Strong economy

“What I know is that the public requires a strong economy that will sustain better livelihoods, and this can be attained through competent leadership,” said Ambassador Bitok on phone.

Others who have declared interest for the seat include Nairobi City County Environment Executive Veska Kangogo, Eldoret businessman Jonathan Bii, former Teachers Service Commission commissioner Cleophas Tirop and Uasin Gishu County Assembly Chief Whip David Singoei.

Politician cum businessman Bundotich Zedekiah Kiprop alias Buzeki, who mounted a well-oiled campaign in the 2017 General Election has also declared he will be in next year’s contest.

Ethnic calculations proved a major factor in the previous elections in the region, and it is believed the same will be replicated in 2022. The Nandi and Keiyo communities are the majority in the region and attempts to root for negotiated democracy to share elective positions and defuse tension during electioneering have proved futile.

“These developments we have in different parts in Rift Valley are not because of any elected leader but only the DP, therefore, there is no way we will tolerate insults,” said Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi. While cautioning against ethnic politics in the 2022 gubernatorial succession race, he insisted that the contenders must support DP Ruto.

“The electorates should reject tribal chauvinists and vote in development oriented leaders,” Mr Sudi said on phone.

Peaceful co-existence

“We value peaceful co-existence and there is nothing like being a Nandi, Keiyo, Marakwet or any other ethnic community when it comes to electing leaders,” added Mr Sudi.

However, Keiyo elders led by Yusuf Keitany, want the DP and his troops to respect leaders who are leaning towards President Uhuru Kenyatta. The elders have said they will not keep quiet when their leaders are being undermined, noting that all of them were elected hence deserve respect in equal measure.

They said they deserve elective positions in the cosmopolitan Uasin Gishu County, arguing that traditionally, whenever, the Nandi community ruled for five years, another five would be for the Keiyo.

Divisions have in the past emerged among the Kalenjin over sharing of the competitive positions of governor, senator and Woman Rep, especially in Uasin Gishu, Trans-Nzoia and Elgeyo-Marakwet counties.

A proposal by Kalenjin elders to share elective positions in Uasin Gishu has faced resistance from the electorate who have termed the plan as undemocratic.

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