The Kenya Kwanza alliance has suffered a blow in Trans Nzoia after four of its key members who were eyeing the deputy governor’s position ditched Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa for his rival, former Rift Valley regional commissioner George Natembeya.
Mr Philemon Samoei, who had been denied the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) ticket for the governor’s seat, Mr Kipkoech Arap Mutai, Ms Julian Kichwen and Ms Teresa Metto, who were eyeing the running mate’s position under UDA, announced their decision to back Mr Natembeya’s bid in Kitale after Mr Wamalwa unveiled his running mate, former high school principal Bethwel Kirior, at the AIC Chebarus ground on Friday.
Mr Samoei, formerly with the Kenya Air Force, was eyeing the governor’s seat and had been asked to strike a consensus with Mr Wamalwa of Ford Kenya but declined. He also failed to get the UDA ticket.
His defection to Mr Natembeya’s camp alongside the other three followed a series of meetings, Nation.Africa established. Mr Samoei has declared that he will not support Dr Wamalwa.
Mr Samoei now says he shares the same aspirations as Mr Natembeya and that Trans Nzoia will be in safe hands under a government of the former Rift Valley regional administrator.
“We are happy to join our brother Natembeya. I am not lamenting what happened to me but after soul-searching, I have seen that we share the same aspirations. As the Nandi community, we are bringing our synergy to support our brother Natembeya,” he said.
Mrs Metto, who had initially shown interest in the governor’s seat but accepted the running mate position after UDA got into an alliance with Ford Kenya and ANC, said they were disappointed by Mr Wamalwa’s decision to ‘handpick’ his running mate.
“We had an agreement with Wamalwa to give the Nandi community the mandate to pick a running mate. But instead, he chose to handpick Mr Kirior,” she said.
The four accused Kenya Kwanza of being gender-insensitive.
“On behalf of the Nandi community, we are making our political stand on the governor’s seat and that is we will be rallying behind Natembeya for the governor’s seat because of the leadership qualities he has demonstrated,” Mr Kichwen said.
The defectors were received by Mr Natembeya, who assured them that his government would be inclusive, with representation from all communities.
“We welcome those who have joined our team. Our objective is to have all the communities on board. I am the people’s project and want to offer my services to the people and not seek power for the sake of it,” he said.
Mr Natembeya will unveil Mrs Philomena Bineah Kapkory, a former banker, as his running mate on Wednesday, May 25, at the Kokwo Mt Elgon lounge in Endebess constituency.
The name of Mr Wamalwa’s running mate was submitted to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries commission (IEBC) by the May 16 deadline.
“It took wide consultations among communities in this county to arrive at Mr Kirior as the eventual candidate for the running mate slot,” he said.
Leaders back Wamalwa's choice
Ford Kenya party leader Moses Wetang'ula welcomed Mr Wamalwa’s choice, saying the uniqueness of Trans Nzoia, a cosmopolitan county, dictates that negotiated democracy be embraced.
“We in Kenya Kwanza are committed to achieving transformation in this country through the right leadership. We call on residents to support their candidature,” said Senator Wetang'ula.
Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka, Endebess MP Robert Pukose and Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen also backed Mr Wamalwa’s choice, saying the team has what it takes to implement the “bottom-up” economic model through transformative leadership at the county level.
“Chris Wamalwa and Bethwel Kirior have all it takes to transform this county. We call on the residents to support their bid since they have been tried and tested," said Senator Murkomen.
Other leaders present at the event included Nandi Governor Stephen Sang, Uasin Gishu Woman Representative Gladys Boss Shollei; Trans Nzoia aspirants Henry Ole Ndiema and Allan Chesang (Senate seat); Wesley Korir and Benson Milimo (Cherang'any MP); and Lilian Siyoi and Eunice Karanja (woman representative).