Deputy President William Ruto’s allies in the Jubilee Party yesterday claimed that the Mau evictions were politically instigated to stop his 2022 presidential bid.
The leaders, who spoke to the Nation separately, claimed the March 9, 2018 handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga was the first deliberate attempt to curtail Dr Ruto’s rise to power, closely followed by the fight against corruption, and now the Mau evictions.
“It is not even about tribes or regions, but about a few individuals who are power hungry … and the issue of referendum, lifestyle audit, corruption propaganda and now the Mau issue are all targeted at one person,” Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei said.
“The evictions are a targeted campaign against the Deputy President to prevent him from becoming the president in 2022.”
He said the calls for a referendum and lifestyle audits were not in good faith, as they also target Dr Ruto.
He said that some of the DP’s allies have been arrested, face prosecution and have been intimidated “because our allegiance is with the Deputy President. It is as simple as that,” he said.
Emurua Dikirr MP Johana Ng’eno and his Konoin counterpart, Mr Brighton Yegon, echoed his sentiments.
“The narrative here is very clear that they are after the DP, seeking to make his backyard a politically volatile area for the government so that the people can feel his role is diminished,” said Mr Yegon.
He added that the people in the region could read the political gimmicks in the Mau eviction.
“Sadly, as the senior government officers engage in politics and setting up others to fall, the children are subjected to untold suffering,” Mr Mr Ng’eno said.
When he hosted the DP in his constituency last Friday, Mr Ngeno told him: “It is very clear that they are after you in this case. The eviction is politically motivated, leave this to us to deal with it as leaders.”
Bomet Governor Hillary Barchok and nominated Jubilee MP David Sankok have initiated a process to bring together Maasai and Kalenjin leaders to address the issue.
“We have agreed that we seek leaders from the two communities to dialogue for the sake of unity and find a lasting solution to the conservation issue,” said Dr Barchok.
Meanwhile, Mr Sankok said: “Political bickering, fighting over what should and should not be done, who is wrong or right without coming to a round table to defuse tension and find a lasting solution will not help the people who are suffering on the ground,” said Mr Sankok.
They spoke after holding a closed-door meeting at the governor’s office in Bomet on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Mr Ng’eno and two Narok County assembly members were released from police custody on Wednesday morning.
The Nation established that the three, who were expected to appear in a Narok court yesterday, were released on Sh150,000 police bond each after spending more than seven hours in police cells.
But they had to report to the Narok Directorate of Criminal Investigations office for further interrogation, before leaving.
However, Rift Valley Regional Coordinator George Natembeya, in an interview with the Nation, said they were released because their file had been forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Mr Noordin Haji, for review.
The lawmaker was arrested on Tuesday in Olmekenyu, Narok South, after he defied an order at a police roadblock to turn back amid suspicion that he was on his way to the Maasai Mau to lead protests against the second phase of evictions.
He was detained alongside Ololulung’a Ward Representative Jefferson Langat and Philemon Aruasa, who were arrested shortly after they arrived in Melelo to address the settlers.
According to a police source, the leaders are staring at charges of incitement, obstruction and holding an illegal public meeting.
The arrests came as hundreds of settlers continued to leave the areas that have been declared forest land by Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko.
Hundreds of families are already leaving the targeted areas of the Mau Forest Complex ahead of the planned evictions.
Already, Kenya Forestry Service rangers and police officers have been deployed to the sections of the forest targeted, with tension gripping settlers.
The evictions have caused sharp divisions between leaders from the Maasai and Kalenjin communities in the Rift Valley, with the latter demanding that the exercise be stopped.
Already, the battle lines have been drawn between the Maasai and Kipsigis communities over the evictions at the country’s largest water tower.
Five ranches that are believed to have been extended into the water tower, are targeted for reclamation.
The second phase of the evictions targets Nkoben, Ilmotiok and Ololung'a, Enokishomi, Enoosokon, Nkaroni and Sisian.
Additional reporting by George Sayagie.