Divisions have emerged among Rift Valley leaders over support for Deputy President William Ruto's 2022 presidential bid.
A clique of Jubilee lawmakers from the region on Sunday issued several demands to be met by Mr Ruto and his allies in order to guarantee their support.
They want, among other things, the woes facing the agriculture sector, specifically maize and dairy, to be conclusively put to rest, as well as the explosive land issue in the Mau Forest complex where thousands of families have been evicted.
Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter and his Cherang’any counterpart Joshua Kutuny have argued that these are the hot issues in the region that need Mr Ruto's attention.
Ruto has lately been reaching out to other leaders, including Chama cha Mashinani (CCM) leader Isaac Ruto and redrafting political alignments ahead of the next General Election.
“The next elections will have nothing to do with religion, tribal groupings, past poll deals and funds drives. The DP has lost his grip on Rift Valley because of being misadvised by his political dimwits,” the outspoken MP said.
Mr Ruto, the former Bomet Governor, hosted allies of the DP and other prominent Rift Valley leaders - including sitting governors and MPs - at his Chepalungu home in what is believed to be a scheme to revamp CCM as an alternative political vehicle for the DP should things turn sour in Jubilee party.
But Mr Keter rubbished the scheme as a waste of time, arguing that the DP has in the past dismissed CCM as a non-entity in political circles.
Mr Kutuny urged Mr Ruto's to resolve the crises in the maize sector and Mau Forest, which he claimed had divided leaders from the region.
He claimed that Mr Ruto’s wavering stand on the push for a constitutional review and the famous "handshake" between President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga are some of the issues that have almost derailed his 2022 presidential bid.
“It is high time Mr Ruto reaches out to Baringo Senator Gideon Moi so that we can work for our people,” he added.
Keiyo South MP Daniel Rono said it was ironical for Mr Ruto to push for national unity when his home turf is in a mess.
“Mr Ruto cannot make a mistake of bringing everyone on board last minute and that’s why he is reaching out to CCM leader Isaac Ruto, and he will also reach out to Gideon Moi. Kalenjin nation have to be united before championing unity for the whole country,” Mr Rono said.
But Soy MP Caleb Kositany dismissed claims that Mr Ruto was out to use CCM to bolster his 2022 presidential bid. He insisted that Mr Ruto is in Jubilee to stay and will be the party’s presidential flag-bearer in 2022.
“We formed Jubilee Party and we are here to stay. The fact that the DP is reaching out to other leaders has nothing to do with the 2022 succession politics. We are building bridges for a united country as we fulfil our campaign promises,” Mr Kositany said.
Former ruling party Kanu also enjoys massive support in the Rift Valley and has embarked on a grassroots mobilisation campaign ahead of the elections.
At the same time, Rift Valley leaders are pushing for a Jubilee Parliamentary Group (PG) meeting to air their grievances, among them the thorny Mau Forest evictions issue, the Nation has learnt.
The move comes as two previous attempts earlier this year to meet President Uhuru Kenyatta came a cropper. It has now emerged that the leaders have stepped up a fresh bid to push for a meeting to have the issues deliberated.
Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen, who is also the chairman of the regional parliamentary caucus, did not respond to calls and text messages, but a number of lawmakers from the region interviewed by the Nation on Sunday revealed that they were still pushing for a meeting with the President.
“Earlier this year, we wrote to President Kenyatta requesting for a meeting and the letter was signed by governors Joyce Laboso (Bomet) and Paul Chepkwony (Kericho). We are optimistic that the meeting will materialise soon,” Belgut MP Nelson Koech said.
Reporting by Onyango K’onyango, Barnabis Bii, Eric Matara and Vitalis Kimutai