Bomet Governor Isaac Rutto plans to run for President in 2017. In preparation, the Chairman of the Council of Governors has begun identifying a team of professionals and confidants who will evaluate his bid. Once the evaluation is done, Rutto will make public his plans sometime next year.
The Governor did not confirm or deny that he was in the race, insisting he was still considering the issue. “I’m yet to make up my mind about the issue and so I have no comment at the moment,” Rutto told the Star.
Rutto has been a critic of Deputy President William Ruto and the Jubilee administration, which he accuses of wanting to kill devolution. Last weekend in Bomet, Ruto also hinted that that he will go for President, but did not say when. It is understood that apart from putting together the evaluation team, the one-time Cabinet minister is also working on a secretariat that he hopes to launch next year to drive his bid.
Rutto’s announcement is likely to complicate matters for Deputy President Ruto and Kanu chairman Gideon Moi, who are both eying the Presidency. While Ruto wants to wait until President Uhuru Kenyatta completes his second term in 2022, Moi is working to challenge Kenyatta in 2017.
The three will join Opposition leaders Martha Karua, Moses Wetang’ula, Kalonzo Musyoka and Raila Odinga, who have also expressed their interest in running for President in 2017.
Rutto is planning to either take over URP if the Deputy President moves to JAP, or UDM, which is also associated with Kalenjin leaders. Currently the Governor is identifying prospective candidates in parts of the Rift Valley who he hopes to field on his party ticket in 2017.
The plan, according to those behind the Isaac-Rutto-for-President bid, is to split the Kalenjin bloc and leverage on it to bargain for political seats. In what appears to be Rutto’s most calculated move to increase his political influence in the populous Rift Valley and gain a strong base, he has been meeting key stakeholders from the region.
Last year, Rutto hosted the influential Kalenjin Council of Elders and the directors of tea factories from the South Rift region. He has also hosted former councilors who served in the now-defunct local authorities.
The abrasive politician has also made a point of attending high-profile fundraising functions both in the Rift Valley and other regions. In October last year, he presided over a harambee organised by Kisumu Central legislator Ken Obura, where Sh2,035,000 was raised. MPs allied to the Deputy President have accused the Governor of plotting to split the political bloc through his referendum push – the Pesa Mashinani campaign.
Bomet Central MP Ronald Tonui said there has never been anything like Rutto vying for President as the region already has a candidate who will succeed to the office when Uhuru retires in 2022, a reference to Ruto.
Those are wild dreams and efforts in futility. What we know is the DP will take the mantle in 2022 and in the Rift Valley we shall all combine our efforts with other communities in rallying behind the DP to be the next President,” said Tonui.
Tonui’s sentiments were echoed by National Assembly deputy Speaker and Sotik MP Joyce Laboso, who said they will fully support the DP to become the next President. Rutto criticised and mocked President Kenyatta and Deputy President Ruto for their new political vehicle JAP’s loss to ODM in a tight by-election race on Tuesday. “This was a result of lack of consultations and of dictatorship. If I had had not travelled to Britain, I would have campaigned for Memusi,” said Rutto.
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