Kenya: Law Change Rift Threatens to Split Ruto Political Backyard

28 September 2020

A political showdown looms in Rift Valley over the proposed constitutional reforms that have split Deputy President William Ruto's political bastion right down the middle.

The battle pits the DP Ruto and his supporters opposed to the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) referendum drive championed by President Kenyatta and Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga against its proponents.

In an exclusive interview with the Nation in Iten on Sunday, Governor Alex Tolgos told the DP to stop linking the BBI to his 2022 State House bid.

The soft-spoken governor asked the BBI opponents to stop misleading voters in Rift Valley that the BBI is meant to clip the DP's presidential quest.

"It's important for our people to know that constitutional reforms are not linked to President Kenyatta's succession."

Read: Where is BBI report? DP Ruto's allies ask Uhuru and Raila

Mr Tolgos, who was appointed by the President to lead the BBI campaigns in the Rift Valley, further asked the DP and his Tangatanga brigade to stop premature campaigns and instead focus on delivering on the President's development agenda.

Escalating tensions

Amid escalating tensions, proponents of the BBI in the region have been meeting to lay ground for a massive grassroots campaign to rally support for the document once it is out.

Kanu chairman Gideon Moi, who is also the Baringo senator, last week met Chama Cha Mashinani (CCM) party leader Isaac Ruto in Chepalungu, Bomet County, in what has been seen as coming together to sideline DP Ruto and his troops.

Sources told the Nation that preparations are in top gear for Mr Odinga to visit the region to drum up support for the BBI.

Cherang'any MP Joshua Kutuny, who leans towards the President and Mr Odinga's camp in the BBI debate, yesterday said an alliance is in the offing bringing together Mr Ruto, businessman Zedekiah "Buzeki" Bundotich, and MPs, among others.

Political issues

Kanu Secretary-General Nick Salat said the party would hold meetings to deliberate on the socio-economic and political issues of the region ahead of the 2022 General Election, including the dwindling fortunes in agriculture.

This comes just days after the DP gave one of the clearest signals yet that he will oppose the constitutional changes, stating that Kenyans are not ready for discussions on "power and positions"at the moment.

"Before we discuss power and positions, we must discuss how [ordinary Kenyans] will place food on the table, how small businesses will thrive, how the jobless will get employment and how children will get an education," he said.

Jubilee Party deputy secretary general Caleb Kositany, who is also the DP's de facto spokesperson, said: "Nothing is clear about the BBI. It's sad that during this tough times, we're still discussing the BBI issue."

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