, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 19 – It is a county of champions that has attained world recognition for taking a lead in local and international athletics.
Situated in the West of the Great Rift Valley, Uasin Gishu County has many reasons that makes it relevant in political, social and economic debates.
With a population of 298,258 registered voters, the county is a hunting ground for the presidential aspirants who will require 50+1 percent vote to be the country’s leader.
The county borders six other counties namely Elgeyo Marakwet, Trans Nzoia, Kericho, Baringo, Nandi and Bungoma.
It has Eldoret East, Eldoret South and Eldoret North provinces with Eldoret as its commercial capital.
Uasin Gishu County has also been in the public limelight after the International Criminal Court (ICC) launched investigations into the 2008 post election violence.
The area mainly occupied by Kalenjins has been under scrutiny over attacks that led to ethnic violence between Kalenjins and Kikuyus.
For that reason, the ICC Prosecution has accused former Eldoret North MP William Ruto and radio personality, Joshua arap Sang of indirectly organising attacks blamed for the 2008 poll violence in Uasin Gishu County and other neighbouring areas.
That notwithstanding, 2013 is the year of Kenya’s historical general election under the new constitution intended to decentralise power to the grassroots.
Election being almost a do or die affair in Kenya overrides all other issues including the ICC.
Ruto who is Kenyatta’s running mate is considered to be the Kalenjin kingpin. He is the immediate former MP of Eldoret North which has now been split to create Soy and Turbo constituencies.
Though his United Republican Party (URP) is the strongest party in the area, the URP candidate is likely to face stiff competition because of the cosmopolitan population in the area.
Turbo which is Ruto’s home constituency has about 87,000 registered voters and it covers a large area including the Marakwet ward in Eldoret town.
The population comprises Kalenjins, Luhyas and Kikuyus mainly with each forming about 30 percent of the voting population.
Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka’s Wiper party aspirant Samson Kitur is among those who can outdo URP’s Elisha Busienei in Turbo constituency.
Kapseret constituency is also largely cosmopolitan but the URP aspirant Oscar Sudi is likely to emerge as the winner.
In Soy and Kesses constituencies Edwin Barchulai and James Bett both of URP are respectively the likely winners.
Samwel Chepkonga (URP) seems to take up the Ainabkoi seat and Sila Tiren also of URP is the likely winner of the Moiben seat.
Projections are that URP candidates may sweep all the six parliamentary seats in Uasin Gishu County.
URP aspirant Jackson Mandago seems to have better chances of leading the day. The Kalenjin bloc comprises half Nandi and Keiyo sub tribes.
Mandago is from the Nandi while ODM’s Margaret Kamar is Keiyo. She poses a threat to Mandago if she will split the Kalenjin vote and convince the non-Kalenjin voters to back her. She enjoys substantial support from the non-Kalenjins having been extensively involved in peace and reconciliation after the post election violence.
Young and political green horn URP’s Isaac Melly may become the senator of Uasin Gishu County though he will face a tight race from ODM aspirant Lawyer Paul Birech who has also been serving as Governor of the Red Cross.
Birech, a renowned lawyer in the region is viewed to have the necessary capacity to serve better in the Senate than Melly. But the URP wave is quite strong and will advantage Melly. Other contenders are viewed as weak politically in the region.
URP’s Eusila Ngenyi is a strong aspirant because of the party’s popularity in the region and the fact that she is well known in the county having served as Deputy Mayor of Eldoret in the past. ODM’s Moira Chepkok is an experienced manager in the private sector but the choice of her party could be the main undoing she will tackle owing to it the deep differences between URP and ODM.
Just like the parliamentary seats, URP is also likely to win all the county representative seats in the region.