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Monday, August 21, 2017

Nakuru aspirants play ethnic card to win governor post

Nakuru governor Kinuthia Mbugua./RITA DAMARY
Nakuru governor Kinuthia Mbugua./RITA DAMARY

As fresh political realignments take shape in Nakuru ahead of the polls, governor hopefuls have been urged to involve all communities in identifying deserving leaders to deputise them.

The tussle over the ownership and control of the county has left three communities in the race.

The five leading governor candidates are shopping for a running mate who will give them an edge.

Analysts say ethnic alliances and choice of running mates are expected to determine the political direction the governor race takes. Analyst Andrew Nyabuto said despite Nakuru being a cosmopolitan region, Kikuyus are about 48 per cent of the population, 28 per cent are Kalenjin and Kisii takes up 10 per cent, among other tribes.

“The Kipsigis largely dominate the Kalenjin community. We have about 100,000 electorate from the area, therefore, if any governor candidate wants to win he has to wisely select a running mate after deep consultation with elders, youth and women,” Nyabuto said.

Nakuru is home to more than 10 communities, with two being the largest and key determinants. All the main candidates are expected to name their running mates from the populous Kuresoi area inhabited by the Kipsigis.

Governor Kinuthia Mbugua is defending his seat. Others in the race are former NTSA chief Lee Kinyanjui, former Nacada chairman John Mututho, nominated Senator Paul Njoroge and Senator James Mungai.

They have started a search for their deputies from the expansive Kuresoi North and South regions.

Analysts say whoever gets a running mate from Kuresoi will automatically secure a ticket to be the next governor.

“If a candidate gets the 48 per cent, which forms the Kikuyu community, plus the 28 per cent of the Kalenjin, the candidate has higher chances of winning,” Nyabuto said.

In the 2013 elections, Kalenjins and Kikuyus forged an alliance which saw Mbugua take the governor seat. Mbugua picked Raymond Komen, a Tugen from Rongai, but dropped him and picked a Kipsigis.

Mbugua has said he will retain his deputy Joseph Ruto who hails from Kuresoi.

“My deputy has served me well. There are other considerations that drove me to retain him as my running mate,” Mbugua said.

Mututho had settled on 26-year-old Maureen Chebet, a teacher, until Sunday when he dropped her, citing political differences.

He is expected to pick his running mate after consultation from the region.

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