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RAILA RIFT ALLIES WARM UP TO RUTO

Monday, March 25, 2013 - 00:00 -- BY GIDEON KETER

Raila Odinga’s key allies in the Rift Valley are now warming up to deputy President-elect William Ruto. The Star has established that some of key figures especially in North and South Rift who vigorously campaigned for Cord ahead of the March 4 presidential elections are slowly switching their allegiance to the Jubilee Alliance.

This is after dismal performance of Cord in Rift Valley with over 90 percent of those who voted in the elections opting for Ruto’s URP which is one of the key parties in the Uhuru-Kenyatta led Jubilee alliance.

Prominent persons who stood by Raila and Cord despite the URP/Jubilee wave that swept the Rift Valley include ODM chairman and Industrialization minister Henry Kosgey, Agriculture minister Dr Sally Kosgei, Higher Education minister  Margaret Kamar and former Kipkelion MP Magerer Langat.

Promises by Cord that Sally Kosgei and Henry Kosgey would be nominated to Parliament in case they lost their seats during the elections has backfired and it looks as if they are set to slip into political oblivion.

They all lost their seats to candidates sponsored by URP. Majority of the ODM candidates from the region who lost in the elections have maintained a low profile since then. Kosgey,who is the ODM party chairman was not among those who showed up ay the Supreme Court last weekend when Cord was filing its petition challenging the declaration of Uhuru as the election winner.

Kamar's presence at the Eldoret International Airport last Saturday when she was among several dignitaries who were waiting to receive Ruto was notable.

The overtures being made to Raila's allies in the Rift is part of a wider strategy that the Jubilee Alliance has crafted to persuade them to abandon Cord and work with Jubilee and specifically, URP.

According to the Jubilee coalition insiders, Ruto has been tasked to ensure that he crafts a new political game plan to completely lock Raila out of Rift Valley just in case the Supreme Court orders for a repeat of the presidential election.

As part of the strategy, Ruto last week met with Kanu chairman and Baringo senator-elect Gideon Moi at the private residence of an influential businessman in Karen where it was discussed how they can work together.

During the meeting, Ruto was told to ensure Jubilee embraced and accommodated those politicians from Rift valley who ran on different parties but lost. Yesterday, Roads minister Franklin Bett however downplayed the new turn of events saying Cord will remain strong in Rift Valley.

“I can tell you that to the best of my knowledge that the number of Raila’s friends and supporters in the Rift is still intact. For myself, I am in ODM to stay and those peddling lies will get a rude shock very soon, “said Bett who was the chairman of Cord national campaign committee.

Elgeyo Marakwet senator-elect Kipchumba Murkomen was insistent that quite a number of Cord supporters in the region were considering their options and the possibility of linking up with Jubilee was quite attractive to some.

“Five years in politics is a long period for a politician.No-one would want to be locked out and some of them can be appointed into government positions,” he said.

He said that some politicians were fighting to “remain relevant” and remain the “life -line” in the Kenyan politics. “You need to be aware that Ruto is preparing to be the next president after Uhuru, and therefore he is interested in consolidating his support base in Rift Valley,” he said.

Also reconsidering their support for Cord are a section of Maasai leaders. During a press conference last Friday, a group of Maasai professionals said they will ditch ODM if the Supreme Court orders for repeat of the presidential elections.

“We are unhappy with the ODM nominations to the National Assembly and the Senate, no one from our community was nominated yet Maasais gave him many votes compared to any other community in Rift Valley,” they said.

URP chairman Francis Ole Kaparo said their aim is to involve all Kenyans in the running of the Jubilee government irrespective of who they voted for. “We are working hard to bring on board all the communities join jubilee government as the constitution stipulates, “he said.