Deputy President William Ruto’s planned tour of Migori has rekindled divisions in the county and talk of 2022 succession.
Ruto will only tour the minority Kuria community in what is touted as a development tour. It is a key strategy to woe the more than 70,000 voters from the bloc that have broken ranks with some ODM politicians.
The tour will cover Kuria East and Kuria West. Security personnel are headed by Migori county commissioner Joseph Rotich as Jubilee politicians Marwa Kitayama and Mathias Robi mobilise supporters.
The provisional itinerary shows Ruto will open the Kuria East CDF offices and the regional police headquarters at Kegonga.
He will later officiate a funds drive to help boda boda riders buy 100 motorbikes. In Kuria West, Ruto will commission a Sh350 million World Bank water project in Isebania. It was started in 2016 through the Lake Victoria South Water Services to draw water from River Hibwa at Sorore. The DP will also attend a funds drive for Masaba Secondary School. But Kitayama downplayed Ruto’s visit in Kuria alone, saying the meeting is purely for development.
Kitayama, a first-term legislator, is seen as the defacto leader of the Kuria community.
He has openly campaigned for Ruto’s 2022 bid and said the community will vote for him.
A month ago, when Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula was campaigning in Kegonga, Kitayama caused a stir when he told him and other leaders that the Kuria vote is reserved for Ruto. During the repeat presidential elections, Kuria residents went to the polls, despite six other constituencies dominated by ODM skipping the vote.
In the August presidential poll, whose results were nullified by the Supreme Court, President Uhuru Kenyatta garnered 41,951 votes, ( 65 per cent), while National Super Alliance presidential flagbearer Raila Odinga garnered 21,202 votes ( 34 per cent) in Kuria.