DP, Kirwa close rift to steady regional vote

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JEREMIAH KIPLANG'AT

By JEREMIAH KIPLANG’AT
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GERALD BWISA

By GERALD BWISA
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Deputy President William Ruto has approached one of his fiercest political rivals in the North Rift, former Agriculture Minister Kipruto arap Kirwa, to join his camp as he battles to firm up support in his backyard ahead of the 2022 General Election.

Sources close to the two said they have been talking since the beginning of the year and have now closed ranks, adding that Mr Kirwa is expected to join the DP’s camp “in a matter of days”.

Mr Kirwa Monday confirmed that he was planning to join Dr Ruto’s camp before the 2022 polls.

The two held meetings in Nairobi and at the DP’s rural home in Sugoi, Uasin Gishu, where they agreed to work together.

The former minister, who is the deputy leader of Mr Musalia Mudavadi’s Amani National Congress (ANC) party, has lately been attending functions either graced by the DP or those held by his allies in the North Rift.

The DP’s allies said Mr Kirwa had also been approached to tame Cherangany MP Joshua Kutuny, a friend-turned-foe of Dr Ruto, who is a key member of Kieleweke team — a faction linked to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Central Kenya supporters opposed to Dr Ruto’s Tangatanga outfit. Mr Kirwa was a long-time MP for Cherangany before he was dislodged by Mr Kutuny in 2007. He  was also a powerful figure during former President Daniel arap Moi regime and was at one time considered the apparent heir of the Kalenjin throne.

The two have not been seeing eye-to-eye since they fell out after Mr Kirwa – as Agriculture minister – became former President Mwai Kibaki’s main man in the region during his first term in office between 2003 and 2007.

He was replaced by Dr Ruto following the formation of the Grand Coalition Government between 2008 and 2013. Dr Ruto, however, served in the position for two years before he was kicked out following a maize scandal in 2010.

The two Kalenjin leaders, who were once branded rebels during the last term of President Moi, are warming up to each other once again after years of animosity.

Mr Kirwa fiercely opposed the Jubilee Party in the 2013 and 2017 elections and was picked by Mr Mudavadi to deputise him in the ANC ahead of the 2017 polls.

On Sunday, Mr Kirwa hosted several Tangatanga politicians led by Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu for a fundraiser in aid of 15 churches at Makutano area in Cherangany. It was the second time he was hosting members belonging to the group after he welcomed another led by Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen last month.

In both meetings, the former glorified the DP, warning those opposed to him in the Rift Valley to get ready for defeat.

“We will not allow the people of Cherangany to be used again by selfish leaders. We are working to unite our people,” said Mr Kirwa on Sunday. The former minister also recently attended a funeral in the neighbouring Uasin County graced by another set of DP allies, including Soy MP Caleb Kositany and his Kapseret counterpart Oscar Sudi.

In Cherangany, Governor Waititu was accompanied by Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri, Robert Pokose (Endebess), Trans Nzoia Woman Rep Janet Nangabo and former area MP Wesley Korir.

On Sunday, the Tangatanga team accused some State House operatives of being behind the Kieleweke team. They also accused Nominated MP Maina Kamanda and Mr Kutuny of being used by the operatives to fight the DP.

On Monday, Mr Kutuny dismissed plans to dislodge him from the seat, saying his main focus was development in the constituency.

He alleged that the Tangatanga team got a “cold reception” in Cherangany on Sunday.



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