Kalenjin leaders meet over political future

Kalenjin Council of Elders chairman Major (rtd) John Seii (left), and other council members, at the council’s past inauguration in Eldoret Town. Photo/FILE

What you need to know:

  • Political and religious kingpins to strategise on how to move towards the General Election while showing their support for Eldoret North MP who has a case to answer at the ICC

Kalenjin leaders will hold a meeting next Tuesday to discuss the political future among other issues. The meeting will involve political, professional and religious leaders.

In what observers say is a response to the Gikuyu Embu Meru Association (Gema) meeting by leaders from central Kenya two weeks ago, nearly all Kalenjin MPs are expected to attend.

The meeting will be at the Catholic Pastoral Centre in Eldoret town, the backyard of Eldoret North MP William Ruto.

Although the main agenda of the meeting is to “put the Kalenjin house in order” ahead of the next General Election, it will also serve to show the community’s solidarity with Mr Ruto who is facing charges at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The meeting will be presided over by Bishop Jackson Kosgei, the patron of Emo Foundation and Major (rtd) John Seii, the chairman of the Kalenjin Council of Elders.

The meeting will also map out strategies for Mr Ruto’s presidential ambitions and will coincide with another one to be held by central Kenya leaders at the Landmark Hotel, Nairobi, from 2 p.m.

The Nairobi meeting comes two weeks after Gema held a meeting in Limuru in which they affirmed their support for Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta.

Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto are seeking to form a political alliance ahead of the next General Election although both insist that they will run for the presidency. Like Mr Ruto, Mr Kenyatta is also facing trial at the ICC over the post-election violence.

Prof Macharia Munene, a lecturer of international relations at United States International University and a political analyst, said the Eldoret meeting is perhaps an answer to the Gema meeting.

“Politics is about numbers and flexing of muscles. Mr Kenyatta did it the other day and I think Mr Ruto is also saying ‘let me show you what I can do.’ It is the stuff of this game,” he said.

However, Cherangany MP Joshua Kutuny, a close ally of Mr Ruto, played down the talk of competition between the two leaders. “We need to put our house in order before we can approach others for support,” he said. “That does not mean we are competing.”

Mr Kutuny said that all MPs from the Kalenjin community have been invited irrespective of their political affiliation. However MPs allied to Prime Minister Raila Odinga said they have been kept in the dark about the meeting.

East African Co-operation minister Musa Sirma, a close ally of Mr Odinga, said he had not received an official invitation but added that he saw no reason for it.

“It looks like we are copying what others are doing,” he said in reference to the Gema meeting.

His Roads counterpart Franklin Bett also said he had not received an invite. “I think they are waiting to ambush us at the last minute so that when we fail to attend, they will claim that we refused,” he said.

The meeting comes at a time the rallying of voters into ethnic blocs has come under sharp criticism. It remains to be seen whether any resolutions the meeting will come up with will have any impact on the region’s electorate.

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