MPs allied to the United Republican Party have denied claims that URP’s hold on the Rift Valley region is weakening.
There has been disquiet over a number of issues including party leader William Ruto’s campaign to deny a councillor nomination to the East African Legislative Assembly.
Mr Ronald Ng’eny had been nominated by the Orange Democratic Movement, which is now trying to claw back Mr Ruto’s influence in the region.
The return of ODM chairman Henry Kosgey was also putting pressure on Mr Ruto and URP.
Mr Kosgey had been defending himself against the International Criminal Court charges over the 2007/08 election violence. He has now fully returned to the party after the charges were dismissed.
“Mr Kosgey is gaining popularity since he is ready to accommodate ideas of all leaders,” Mr David Koros, a former Eldoret South MP told the Nation yon Tuesday on phone.
ODM on Tuesday released a programme of its campaign meetings in South Nyanza from Thursday.
The rallies had been cancelled following the death of Internal Security minister George Saitoti and his assistant Joshua Orwa Ojodeh in a helicopter crash on June 10.
Energy assistant minister Magerer Lang’at said ODM leader Raila Odinga had asked him to lead party campaigns in the South Rift.
The Kipkelion MP claimed that Mr Ruto’s bid to block the nomination of Mr Ng’eny had given ODM a big boost.
But MPs Charles Keter (Belgut), Julius Kones (Konoin) and Joshua Kuttuny (Cherangany), who are in URP, dismissed Mr Magerer’s assertion.
Read the mood
The South Rift, they said, was firmly behind Mr Ruto. “Any MP who goes back to ODM must be suicidal,” said Mr Keter.
Mr Kuttuny said that in 2007 former minister Nicholas Biwott and retired President Moi’s son and successor as Baringo Central MP Gideon Moi, lost their seats when they failed to read the mood of Rift Valley voters.
Dr Kones said ODM was trying to capitalise on the rejection of Mr Ngeny to split the vote in the South Rift, but it would fail. Other sources said ODM was using vacant party and Cabinet positions to entice the MPs.
The party has been pushing to name a new Deputy Prime Minister since Mr Musalia Mudavadi defected to the United Democratic Front. The Local Government and Industrialisation dockets in the Cabinet are also vacant and so is that of Internal Security assistant minister.
On Tuesday, Mr Keter, said to be one of those promised a Cabinet position, said while anyone could be appointed to the Cabinet, party allegiance was significant. “Whether in or out of Cabinet, we are firmly in URP,” he said.
But political analyst Kipchumba Murkomen of Moi University argues that the election was too far away for any leader or political party to claim control of the region.
Mr Ruto has downplayed claims of divisions in URP even as Lugari MP Cyrus Jirongo threatens to pull out, claiming the party was being sponsored by some State House operatives to split the vote in favour of some preferred candidates.