Deputy President William Ruto has lost yet another key supporter in Rift Valley to his nemesis, Baringo Senator Gideon Moi, as the supremacy battle between the two political big wigs intensifies ahead of the 2022 elections.
Elgeyo-Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgos became the latest senior politician to leave the DP’s team in search for a more “accommodating” camp.
He joins other leaders including Uasin Gishu Woman Representative Gladys Shollei, MPs Sila Tiren (Moiben), Joshua Kutuny (Cherangany) and Alfred Keter (Nandi Hills) who have recently shifted camp and are considered to have a soft spot for the Kanu leader.
Last week influential Uasin Gishu politician Zedekiah Bundotich Kiprop, commonly referred to as Buzeki, also ditched the Ruto camp citing frustration by those close to the DP.
Although he is yet to declare his next destination, there are rumours that he could join Chama Cha Mashinani led by former Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto. The former governor is a close political ally of Mr Moi and the duo worked closely in the last polls. Both Mr Ruto and Mr Moi regard the Rift Valley as their political bastion and have been keen to control it for more bargaining power in the 2022 polls. The two political stalwarts are interested in the presidency in the next elections and both have strong financial muscle.
Those leaving the DP's camp are blaming his close allies, accusing them of arrogance and disrespect.
They accuse Dr Ruto allies, including Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen, MPs Caleb Kositany (Soy), Oscar Sudi (Kapseret) and Mr Farouk Kibet, the DP’s powerful aide, of treating them with disdain and failing to appreciate their positions and the influence they wield in the region.
In under a week after Mr Buzeki severed links with the DP’s camp, Mr Tolgos joined him saying he was not happy with the way those close to Mr Ruto were treating other leaders from the region.
Mr Tolgos, who has had a long-running personal battle with Mr Murkomen, Monday said he had made the decision not to join the Tanga Tanga team, which he describing as being "full of insults and arrogance".
Mr Murkomen is one of the closest allies of the DP and a key member of the Tanga Tanga team.
Although Mr Tolgos said he was still in Jubilee and would respect both President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy being the party leaders, he praised Baringo Senator Gideon Moi, the Kanu leader, for respecting other leaders in the region.
Mr Tolgos was part of the team that welcomed opposition leader Raila Odinga to former President Moi’s Kabarak home on Sunday when he went to condole with him over the loss of his son, Jonathan, two weeks ago. He has become the first serving governor from Mr Ruto’s home turf to decamp and join Mr Moi’s camp.
“I am neither in Tanga Tanga nor Kieleweke teams but I do not like the way members of the Tanga Tanga team are doing their things. It should be known that I will never be part of that team. I like the way Gideon Moi is doing his business. He does not insult anyone and will respect you for who you are. He is just like me,” the governor told the Nation.
The soft-spoken county chief said the barrage of insults by the DP’s allies were driving more people away from him. He accused Mr Murkomen of being behind the decision by politicians to leave the DP.
“If the DP is relying on Tanga Tanga to deliver him the presidency in 2022 I am sorry to say it might be difficult for that to happen. Those in that team are always insulting everyone, from Raila to Gideon and anyone else including me,” he added. Less than two months ago, Mr Tolgos was the recipient of insults from a team that had accompanied Mr Ruto to a fundraiser in Marakwet East in his county. The team accused the governor, in his presence, of being anti-Ruto after he apologised to President Kenyatta for insults aimed at him.