28 April 2014

Kenya: CORD, Jubilee Race for Governor Council Seat

THE 2017 succession politics have been cited as playing a major role in the elections of office bearers on the Council of Governors as Cord and Jubilee want their allies to have positions in its offices.

While Jubilee will be pushing for a person friendly to the government, Cord is reported to be interested in lobbying for current chairman Isaac Rutto to retain the post "for future political reasons".

"We know Cord is lobbying for Rutto to be retained as the chairman for their own schemes. They are arranging for 2017 elections. We are not worried though as we in Jubilee are intact. Jubilee government is committed to devolution," a URP senator who did not want to be named said.

Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho, his Machakos counterpart Alfred Mutua and Nairobi'S Evans Kidero are some of the top contenders to dethrone Rutto. Other positions governors are eyeing include vice chairman and secretary general currently held by Kidero and Ken Lusaka (Bungoma). Lobbying for top positions at the council is underway after elections were postponed last Friday to a date yet to be set in May.

According to sources privy to the lobbying, Rutto is poised to retain his seat as chair due to his performance in the past year. "In as much as lobbying is happening now among governors there is possibility that the incumbent chairman will retain the seat. Governors across the political divide feel comfortable with him due to the combative nature he has taken in defending devolution," said the source at the council's secretariat.

Rutto has aggressively defended devolution accusing the national government of attempting to frustrate the successful implementation of the process. The URP MP still believes former Prime Minister Raila Odinga has been fueling the rift between Rutto and Deputy President William Ruto for 2017 election reasons.

During the inaugural elections of the council chairman, Raila is said to have helped Rutto get elected chairman. The council brings together governors from the 47 counties, most of whom are Cord affiliated.

Kidero and Joho, both from ODM, were the frontrunners for the seat and one of them was expected to win due to the Cord majority in the council. Ruto's supporters insist that Raila wants Rutto to be his running mate in the 2017 elections so as to topple the Deputy President as the leader of the Kalenjin.

Yesterday, Ainamoi MP Benjamin Langat sai Rutto has politicised devolution by using it "as political capital". "It is common knowledge to all of us in URP that Isaac has political ambitions to be Raila's running mate in 2017. We are aware of the scheme and we are ready for it," said Langat, who is Ruto's close ally.

Rutto has said his sole interest is to ensure devolution is fully implemented. He has called on other governors to stand firm against anti-devolution agents.

URP believes that Raila, who lost to President Uhuru Kenyatta in the March elections, want to compete against him in the next presidential elections. It is a perception within URP that Raila blames the Deputy President for his defeat in the last elections as the Rift Valley voted overwhelmingly for Jubilee.

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