Ruto, Kanu face-off in hunt for votes

Saturday March 5 2016

Deputy President William Ruto (left) and Aaron Cheruiyot, the Jubilee party candidate, campaign ahead of the March 7 Kericho senate by elections. PHOTO | DPPS

Deputy President William Ruto (left) and Aaron Cheruiyot, the Jubilee party candidate, campaign ahead of the March 7 Kericho senate by-elections. PHOTO | DPPS 

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Deputy President William Ruto and Baringo Senator Gideon Moi will on Saturday face off on the last day of official campaign period for the Kericho Senate by-election slated for Monday.

DP Ruto will be making his fourth campaign visit to Kericho County in a month to drum up support for Jubilee Alliance Party candidate, Mr Aaron Cheruiyot, against a powerful campaign mounted by a resurgent Kanu.

Mr Moi will lead Kanu supporters in holding a major rally at the Kericho Green Stadium, while DP Ruto is expected to lead a battalion of Jubilee politicians to a series of whistle-stop rallies across the county.

Kanu’s candidate, Mr Paul Sang, has managed to attract the support of dynamic anti-Ruto politicians in the Rift Valley, including rebellious Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto and MPs Alfred Keter (Nandi Hills), Oscar Sudi (Kapseret) and Johana Ng’eno (Emurua Dikir).

The DP’s visit to Kericho comes just two days after Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) Secretary-General Wilson Sossion led thousands of teachers from across the county in reiterating their support for Mr Sang, a former high school teacher.

The declaration by teachers that they would support Kanu has been a major headache for the Jubilee party, owing to the fact that teachers have a strong grassroots support and are considered major opinion shapers.

Mr Sossion, who held a meeting with the teachers at the Kericho Teachers Training College Stadium on Wednesday, said they would back Mr Sang as a means of sending a message of their dissatisfaction with the government.

“Teachers have decided to stand by Mr sang because he is one of us. I have personally come here to rally teachers behind the Kanu candidate because we must win this Kericho Senate seat. I believe that if he wins, teachers will get their salary demand of 50-60 per cent pay rise,” said Mr Sossion.

Teachers are bitter with the government, accusing it of having sidelined them by declining to implement a court order to increase their salaries by between 50-60 per cent.

Mr Sossion noted that unlike the previous governments of presidents Daniel arap Moi and Mwai Kibaki, the Jubilee government had mistreated teachers, adding that it was time for them to use their numerical strength and their influence on the ground to remind the government that they are a force to reckon with.

“If we elect Mr Sang to the Senate, the government will reconsider our demands and take us seriously,” added Mr Sossion.

On Friday, more MPs affiliated to Jubilee joined the JAP campaign team led by Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter, Senate Majority Leader Kithure Kindiki and his deputy Kipchumba Murkomen, who have camped in Kericho for the past one week.

The leaders called on voters to show the country that Kericho County was in Jubilee to stay.

On the other hand, Governor Ruto urged Kericho voters to back Mr Sang to show the Jubilee government that they were tired of the numerous unfulfilled promises.

He further accused the government of nepotism when hiring top government officers.