, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 5 – The battle for the Rift Valley played out even in the choice of venue for JAP and KANU’s final campaign rallies ahead of Monday’s Kericho by-election.
The President Uhuru Kenyatta founded JAP held its rally at the Uhuru Gardens while the Gideon Moi led KANU held its rally at the Moi Gardens after an initial scuffle; the venues being within stone throwing distance of each other.
The supporters who sought to mark their territory on Saturday will face off again at the ballot come Monday when they decide who will succeed Charles Keter as the next Kericho Senator; a by-election having been necessitated by his appointment as Energy Cabinet Secretary.
JAP candidate, fresh faced Aaron Cheruiyot, will face off with veteran politician and KANU flag bearer Paul Sang in what is widely viewed as a race between the two candidates.
The by-election is also widely seen as a show of dominance over the region; pitting Deputy President William Ruto against KANU’s Gideon Moi and Secretary General Nick Salat.
It was even reported by a local daily that Deputy President William Ruto sees it as a measure of manhood.
The characteristic barbs have been a trademark of the campaigns with the Deputy President accusing KANU of attempting to divide and conquer the Rift Valley despite both his United Republican Party and KANU being a part of the Jubilee coalition.
KANU leaders have on the other hand accused the Deputy President of abandoning the region only to return in search of votes.
As Kericho residents head to the polls on Monday so will those of Malindi to elect a new National Assembly representative after Dan Kazungu, in similar fashion to Keter, was elected Mining Cabinet Secretary.
There the battle lines are drawn between Jubilee and the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy in what is seen as another test of might ahead of the 2017 general election.
Prior to making his way back to Kericho on Saturday, Deputy President William Ruto had set up camp in Malindi urging residents to abandon the opposition in favour of the establishment.
“Let’s leave the past in the past. It doesn’t matter how you voted then. What matters is how you vote now. Join us in government,” he said in reference to the fact that Kazungu whom they appointed to Cabinet, was an opposition MP.
They would benefit much more as a, “part of government,” Ruto enticed, than they would should they remain allied to the opposition.
CORD principal Raila Odinga was not to be left behind and himself spent considerable time in Malindi to defend the seat.