We’ll go it alone in 2012, say Ruto allies


Published on 24/03/2009

By Dedan Okanga

Agriculture Minister William Ruto distanced himself from the fledgling Kikuyu-Kalenjin alliance, while his lieutenants hinted at his going it alone in 2012.

Ruto poured cold water on speculation that he was contemplating joining hands with Deputy Prime

Minister Uhuru Kenyatta in the next general elections.

Speaking in Kalenjin to residents of Keiyo South on Sunday, Ruto — ODM’s deputy party leader — appeared to be sending a strong message

to his erstwhile ally Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Uhuru and any other partly leader seeking political

partnership.

Assistant Minister for Home Affairs Beatrice Kones, Energy Assistant Minster Charles Keter, Agriculture Minister William Ruto, Environment Assistant Minister Jackson Kiptanui and Emgwen MP Elijah Lagat at Full Gospel Church in Nyaru, Keiyo South District, before a funds drive in aid of the church last Sunday. Photo: Peter Ochieng’/Standard

While carefully choosing his words, Ruto said: “We supported Uhuru in 2002 and he failed while in 2007 we voted for the one you know. When it comes to 2012, we will look at it.”

The vote-rich North Rift Valley region voted for Raila almost to a man in his bid for the presidency in the last General Election.

Ruto’s latest political proclamations come only a day after former President Moi addressed a rally in Eldoret town and condemned the proposed Kikuyu-Kalenjin alliance as a “pre-1960 mindset.”

Some of the MPs who accompanied Ruto to the funds drive in Keiyo South also hinted that the Kalenjin community might not necessarily throw their weight behind ODM unless other leaders in the party support a Kalenjin.

Among them was Home Affairs Assistant Minister Beatrice Kones, who called for Kalenjin unity ahead of the 2012 elections.

In her maiden political tour of the region since her election to Parliament through a by-election following the death of her husband, the late Kipkalya Kones, she said the community should support one of their own for the top job.

Promotion hints

“We have helped people achieve their political goals and 2012 should be the time for us to close ranks as a community and support one of us,” she said.

Kones made the remarks only one day after Raila had hinted at her impending promotion during his tour of Narok.

Raila is reported to have said Kones was warming up for bigger things,” but her latest remarks point to what is shaping up as a struggle for alliances between the Raila and Ruto camps in the vast Rift Valley Province.

But Agriculture Assistant Minister Kareke Mbiuki, one of the most vocal advocates of the Kalenjin-Kikuyu alliance, has said several times that it is just a matter of time before the alliance comes to fruition.

Another MP from the region who is also a close Ruto ally recently told The Standard that a section of Central Province MPs have held several private meetings with their Rift Valley counterparts to mend relations.

“We have been meeting with our colleagues from Central Province because we realise that we have to co-operate in certain areas for the sake of our different interests,” said the MP.

Resettlement talk

But Ruto, while addressing residents of Burnt Forest two weeks ago denied the possibility of a political alliance, saying any co-operation was basically to address resettlement of the displaced.

“The alliance that we are having is only for the benefit of the internally displaced persons, who we are committed to assisting, but nothing more,” he said.

This echoes overtures extended by Justice Minister Martha Karua, who is alleged to have met Ruto severally to plan the resettlement of internally displaced persons in the region.

Ruto, however, went public claiming Karua had sought a meeting to discuss a possible alliance in the 2012 General Election, claims that have since been denied by Karua.

Ruto supporters have lately expressed discontent over the distribution of Cabinet posts by ODM with the South Rift leaders crying foul, echoing sentiments by others in the ODM that they were short-changed in the distribution of public jobs in the Coalition Government.

The first signs of a rift in ODM came to light when Rift Valley MPs allied to Ruto criticised their fellow party MPs for threatening to walk out of the coalition for what they termed a raw deal from their partner in Government, PNU.

But Ruto — and his lieutenants — went against the grain, claiming the disgruntled should leave the coalition.

His latest position on the proposed alliance reconciles him with one of his strongest supporters, including Nominated MP Musa Sirma who is strongly opposed to any alliance.

Land issue

Most of those opposed to the Kikuyu-Kalenjin alliance or “KK alliance” as it has been billed, cite the thorny land issue in the volatile region, which remains unresolved, and a potential trigger of conflict between communities.

During Raila’s visit to the region two weeks ago, Ruto led a group of Rift Valley MPs in reaffirming their loyalty to ODM and dismissed claims of a rift between him and the prime minister.

But at an earlier rally in Kapsabet, where the Agriculture Minister was the chief guest, the restive MPs led by Kipkelion MP Magerer Lagat criticised the ODM top brass for their calls to renegotiate the coalition pact.

They also took issue with the party top leadership for having failed to turn up in Parliament when Ruto was facing a censure Motion that was roundly defeated.

“We cannot keep on getting into coalitions and quitting. Let those who want to leave Government do so, they will meet us at the door as we enter,” said Lagat.

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