The entry of Nicholas Biwott into the March 7 Kericho senatorial by-election equation has raised the stakes in the race that currently has Deputy President William Ruto and Baringo Senator Gideon Moi locking horns in the battle for Rift Valley supremacy.
Mr Biwott, a former powerful Moi-era Cabinet minister, was in Kericho County on Sunday to campaign for National Vision Party (NVP) candidate Bishop Daniel Tanui, a former member of Parliament, who will battle with Jubilee’s youthful Aaron Cheruiyot and Kanu’s Paul Sang, the latter a two-time Bureti MP and former health minister.
Mr Ruto has described a vote for Kanu as a vote for the Opposition, while the independence party has rallied behind what seems to be increasing rebellion against the government for unfulfilled promises to raise its popularity.
The Kericho senator’s seat fell vacant after the appointment of Mr Charles Keter as Energy and Petroleum Cabinet secretary in November last year.
Kanu is backed by rebellious Jubilee leaders, including Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto, Narok Senator Stephen ole Ntutu, MPs Alfred Keter (Nandi Hills) and his Kapseret counterpart Oscar Sudi. Mr Biwott on Sunday called on Kericho residents to back his candidate for the Senate seat, saying he was the best man for the job.
The NVP party leader said Bishop Tanui, who has been in active politics since 1979, and has twice been elected Kipkelion MP, had enough political expertise to properly represent the people of Kericho.
“The Senate requires a person who understands the dynamism of today’s society and has a good grasp of the new Constitution. I have known Bishop Tanui for a long time and he has proven to be a trustworthy man who cannot be intimidated by the powers that be,” said Mr Biwott, who was famously known as “the total man” at the height of his public service.
Bishop Tanui said if elected into office, he would use his position to foster unity among the various leaders of the county in order to boost development and urged voters to support him.
The other candidates in the race are Mr Paul Sigei (United Democratic Movement), Mr David Mutai (New Democrats) and Mr Wycliffe Ng’enoh of the Maendeleo Democratic Party.
Meanwhile, Kanu supporters protested against the head of the Africa Gospel Church in Kenya, Bishop Robert Langat, for allegedly sidelining Governor Ruto and denying him a chance to speak on Sunday during a church service at Kapkisiara in Bureti constituency.
Governor Ruto stormed out of the meeting.