12 July 2018

Kenya: Fired By Win, Alfred Keter Vows to Soldier On

Photo: Capital FM
Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter.

The Court of Appeal in Eldoret on Wednesday overturned a lower court's decision to nullify the election of Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter, adding a new chapter to the book about the political life of the controversial MP.

With his life already full of all drama, ranging from lonely times in jail, lone press conferences in Parliament, threatening police officers at night to taking on the mighty including his party bosses, the 38-year-old MP can now rest easy.

As soon as the judgment was read, the MP, who has attracted both foe and friend for his outspoken nature, endless antics, daredevilry and gift of the gab, was soon in the streets of Eldoret to celebrate.

He told all who cared to listen that he was indefatigable and that he would keep talking about anything and anyone.

"I am back to work to continue with what have been doing. I know I'm being fought because I speak my mind. My friends Silas Tiren and Johanna Ng'eno and I are the only people who will tell you the truth because we are not afraid to say anything," Mr Keter said.

REBEL MP

Mr Ng'eno, the Emurua Dikirr MP, is another rebel MP who won in the last election against a strong wave of a Jubilee campaign to have him trounced.

Last March, the High Court in Eldoret found that Mr Keter had violated the law by campaigning outside the stipulated time quashing his win.

But on Wednesday Judges Erastus Githinji, Fatuma Sichale and Hannah Okwengu ruled the petitioner did not prove that the MP committed an election offence as he relied on hearsay.

Being vocal has been one of the MP's most conspicuous traits that has earned him friends and enemies in almost equal measure.

From a little-known lawmaker in 2013, the MP's popularity has grown with some considering him one of Deputy President William Ruto's likely successors in the Rift Valley. His greatest impediment, however, is that he is not considered loyal enough.

CRITICS

Although the MP says he respects the DP, a fellow Nandi -- a sub-tribe of the larger Kalenjin community -- the lawmaker has become one of his fiercest critics. "I know William Ruto is brilliant, but he is surrounded by foolish people," he said, blaming him for some of the problems the community has faced such as ongoing evictions in the Mau forest and the maize scandal.

Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen and his National Assembly counterpart Aden Duale are some of the top Jubilee Party leaders who have taken on Mr Keter whenever he criticises Mr Ruto.

"He should avoid blaming Jubilee Party and the DP for his woes," Mr Duale said when Mr Keter's win had been nullified as the MP had said it his loss was politically motivated to "punish him for criticising the DP".

In his first term, Mr Keter fell out with the Jubilee administration over the standard gauge railway after he questioned its cost and the contract between the Kenyan and Chinese governments.

At the time, he was dismissed by colleagues and government officials who claimed he was an "attack dog" sent by those who lost in tendering for the multibillion shilling project.

THREATENING POLICE

When that cooled down and construction began, it was not long before he was back in the limelight in 2015.

This time he was captured on video threatening police officers at the Gilgil weighbridge for holding a truck.

He was heard telling the officers to release the truck, impounded for having a fitted drilling rig without a permit, or "State House will call them. He was forced to record a statement with detectives after the video was made public.

As the 2017 elections approached, he appeared to have made amends with the Jubilee leaders as he was granted the party's ticket.

STRIPPED OF POSTSBefore he settled in Parliament upon his election, he was already in trouble after he challenged President Uhuru Kenyatta's picks for various House teams and won. He and fellow rebels were, however, stripped of their posts after the party threatened to eject them from the committees.

On Wednesday, the MP said the yoke had been lifted and he was free to take on anyone. Mr Keter threatened to name and shame MPs colluding with cartels to fleece the country in the ongoing investigation on contraband sugar.

"I am asking you to let me go to Mau and help our people who are suffering after being evacuated from the forest," he said, accusing Mr Ruto of orchestrating the ongoing evacuation from Maasai Mau Forest.And with that Mr Keter opened another battle front.

Additional reporting by Onyango K'Onyango

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