The race for Narok governor is heating up, as the August 8 election approaches. Incumbent Samuel Tunai and Narok West MP Patrick Ntutu are trying to win the confidence of the Maasai community.
The race has turned out as a contest between Deputy President William Ruto and Bomet Governor Isaac Rutto. Rutto is backed by Baringo Senator Gideon Moi and some rebel MPs from the region, who seek to control the Maasai community and the South Rift politics.
DP Ruto supports Tunai, while Rutto has already endorsed Ntutu, who will vie on the governor's Chama Cha Mashinani party.
On Monday, Tunai launched his reelection campaigns in a rally attended by Jubilee bigwigs in Narok town. This came two weeks after Ntutu launched his bid, in a function attended by Gideon, Rutto and a host of Jubilee rebel MPs from the region.
To maintain his grip in the region, Ruro is banking on Tunai to protect the interests of the Kipsigis community living in Maasailand.
The DP is keen on consolidating votes in his South Rift stronghold ahead of his 2022 State House journey, but Rutto and Moi, who are his political rivals, have ganged up to split the vote and scuttle Ruto's plan.
“CCM is just but a party to try and scuttle Ruto’s 2022 plans, but we in Narok are solidly behind the DP. He is assured of our votes and come August 8, Tunai will be reelected because people have discovered Rutto’s plans,” said Kipkorir Langat from Narok.
The politics of Narok is driven by clanism. The Kipisigis and Purko are the largest clans, accounting for 180,000 of the region’s votes, compared to other smaller clans of Kekonyokie, Iltamat, Loita,Ilusiangishu, Moitanik and Sirian.
Ntutu comes from the Purko clan, which is the majority group as Kipsigis being held by Tunai. Ntutu's entrance in the race alongside former PS Joseph Tiampati will, however, complicate the math.
Tiampati’s entry is likely to split the votes of the clan, giving Tunai a smooth sailing ground to retain his seat.
The Kipsigis community living in Angata Barikoi in Kilgoris and Olposimoru in Narok West voted overwhelmingly for Tunai in 2013 because he was in Jubilee. The ruling administration was perceived as best suited to protect land interests.
The Kipsigis have never voted for the opposition.
“The Kipisigis, who live in Narok, follow national politics and have always been behind Ruto because they fear for the security of their land if they vote for the opposition…remember the Mau issue, just as Tunai has always been near them, they cannot afford to vote along other lines,” Samson Tirgen from Narok South said.
And, just as when the Ntutu launched his campaign where several leaders from the opposition and hundreds of residents attended, Jubilee leaders attended Tunai’s event in Narok Stadium.
In a show of might, a convoy of hundreds of vehicles branded in red and white was accompanied by boda boda riders from Suswa, where the Ntutu held a parallel rally.
Uasin gishu governor Jackson Mandago, senators Aaron Cheruiyot (Kericho), Beatrice Elachi, MPs Moses Kuria, Kimani Ichungwa and Alice Ng’ang’a among other several MPs and MCAs attended.
While Ntutu’s camp maintains Tunai must be voted over alleged misuse of public resources, Tunai insists he was the only one who can help unite the communities living in the region.
Ntutu who seemed to be attacking the DP said they will not allow anyone from outside the county to come and "dictate to us on who to vote for".
The Bomet governor is seeking to have control of the South rift politics by ensuring all ‘his’ candidates in various parts the region win.
Rutto’s CCM party has continued to popularize his party in Nakuru, Narok, Bomet and Kericho counties and even has candidates for various seats there.
He told the Narom residents to support Ntutu noting he was the best suited candidate with interests of the common man at heart.
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