Major rift looms in Nandi after UDA losers get IEBC clearance

Governor Jackson Mandago from (left), Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, Amb Julius Bitok, Mr Rigathi Gachagua, Deputy President William Ruto's running mate in Kenya Kwanza, and Jonathan Bii, the party's candidate for the Uasin Gishu governor's seat hold hands at the Kenya Kwanza county economic forum held at Eldoret Sports Club on May 25, 2022.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • On Mr Gachagua’s recent tour of the Rift Valley, where he chaired forums on the economy, he took on politicians who had decided to run as independents after losing in the UDA nominations. 
  • He urged them to support the winners or leave for good and not continue associating with the party.

A major political rift is looming in Nandi County after rebel United Democratic Alliance (UDA) MPs defied a call from Deputy President William Ruto and his running mate Rigathi Gachagua to step down and support party primary winners.

The MPs were cleared by the electoral agency to defend their seats as independent candidates in the August 9 General Election, in a county where previously the DP’s word was final.

Among those cleared are Alfred Keter (Nandi Hills), Vincent Tuwei (Mosop), Cornelius Serem (Aldai) and Nandi County Woman Rep Tecla Tum.

After getting the nod from the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), they have rolled out their campaigns in full force, urging voters to elect them and claiming they were rigged out during UDA nominations.

Of the six MPs in the county, only Tinderet’s Julius Meli survived the primaries, while 36 of the 39 MCAs lost in the voting.

The MPs say the primaries were shambolic and senior party officials had declined to listen to their complaints.

On Mr Gachagua’s recent tour of the Rift Valley, where he chaired forums on the economy, he took on politicians who had decided to run as independents after losing in the UDA nominations. 

He urged them to support the winners or leave for good and not continue associating with the party.

This is because some of the independents insist they still support the DP in his presidential bid.

But Mr Gachagua warned that those who don’t toe the line should not expect any support from the DP if they lose in the elections.

He said those who insisted on going to the ballot were selfish individuals who were putting their interests first, promising that those who heed the party’s call would be given priority in government appointments if Kenya Kwanza wins the presidential election.

In Baringo County, he urged Governor Stanley Kiptis and Eldama Ravine MP Moses Lessonet, who are defending their seats as independents, to withdraw from the races and campaign for party ticket holders if they wanted to secure their political future, a call they have defied.

In Nandi, Mr Tuwei said independent candidates would not be cowed.

“We will not buy into the intimidation and threats from other elected leaders because the Kenyan Constitution recognises our rights in society,” he said, accusing elected leaders from outside Nandi of interfering in the county’s politics and attempting to dictate to voters on who to vote for.

Dr Tum claimed her victory in the party's primaries was stolen.

She said she decided to run as an independent after she was ignored by the party’s head office when she complained. She expressed confidence that she would capture the Emgwen parliamentary seat.

And Mr Keter, whose ticket was taken away by the party even after he had won the primaries, told his rivals to prepare for a tough battle, saying voters don’t want leaders to be imposed on them.

“Voters in Nandi Hills are capable of electing their own leaders without being dictated [to] by leaders from outside,” he said.

The politicians spoke as Anglican Bishop Paul Korir warned against threats and intimidation against independent candidates.

“As the Anglican Church leadership in Nandi, we want voters to have the final say on whom they want to elect as leaders in various positions …,” he said, adding that voters’ rights must be respected.

Dr Korir said the church had received protests from independent candidates who said they had been threatened and harassed.

He said Kenya is a mature democracy and leaders should not make decisions for voters.

Mr Gachagua, Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi, Soy MP Caleb Kositany, Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, Nandi Governor Stephen Sang and Senator Samson Cherargei have been urging Nandi voters to vote out Mr Keter and Mr Tuwei, saying they were being used by Azimio la Umoja One Kenya presidential hopeful Raila Odinga to frustrate DP Ruto’s chances of succeeding President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Dr Ruto and Mr Gachagua have said they want UDA to control the National Assembly and have support from a majority of counties and he would not be comfortable working with rebels from his Rift Valley bastion.

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