, NAIROBI, Kenya Jan 14 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s hopes of building support in the vote rich Rift Valley province suffered another blow after Agriculture Minister Dr Sally Kosgei resigned from her post as the Deputy Leader of Government Business.
Dr Kosgei was appointed to the powerful post four months ago after President Mwai Kibaki and the Prime Minister resolved a leadership tussle in the House Business Committee, which saw the Speaker Kenneth Marende serve as its acting chair for two years.
The reason for the resignation has not been established with some saying she resigned to concentrate on her Agriculture Ministry docket.
Other quarters however claim that her move could be interpreted as a protest for the lack of support for Chairman Henry Kosgey and Deputy Party Leader William Ruto, after they were named by ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo as principle planners of the 2007 post election violence.
Dr Kosgei is said to have handed her resignation letter to the Speaker of the National Assembly on Thursday evening.
The Aldai MP and former Industrialisation Minister are considered as Mr Odinga`s key allies in the region after a fallout with suspended Cabinet Minister William Ruto.
Mr Kosgey is no ordinary politician, he is chairman of Kenya’s largest political party- ODM and is the senior-most elected Rift Valley politician seen to have been Mr Odinga’s Ruto checkmate in Rift Valley.
The recent resignations are a big blow to ODM in Rift Valley politics, where a group of MPs led by Mr Ruto are building a new political home.
The big question, however, is; precisely which wing of ODM is Dr Kosgei in, and exactly what is she up to politically?
Dr Kosgei is said have developed a close rapport with Mr Odinga during the brief period he served as a Cabinet Minister in the Moi regime.
Their relationship suffered a setback when the PM ditched KANU and quit the Cabinet towards the end of 2002, after former President Daniel Moi forced Uhuru Kenyatta on KANU as his preferred successor, at a time when Mr Odinga (and other KANU stalwarts) covetously eyed the presidency.
Dr Kosgey’s exit leaves the PM with few influential loyalists in Rift Valley, having been preceded by the death of former Roads Minister Kipkalya Kones in October 2008.
The PM has fallen out with majority of MPs from the Rift Valley, leaving behind a few backbenchers.
The exit of Mr Ruto and Mr Kosgey from the Cabinet leaves behind two less experienced Ministers from the Rift Valley, who include Prof Hellen Sambili and Franklin Bett – as well as Dr Sally Kosgei.
It was widely expected that the Premier was largely dependant on the support of Dr Kosgei to champion his presidential ambitions in the Rift Valley. Follow the author at https://twitter.com/Lwanambisi