In Summary
  • Baringo, West Pokot and Elgeyo Marakwet counties are seen as the last bastions of Kanu and a springboard for Mr Moi in his bid to outwit Deputy President William Mr Ruto.
  • Observers point that due to his popularity, Prof Lonyangapuo poses a threat to Jubilee’s dominance in West Pokot County even though there is general agreement Kanu will support President Uhuru Kenyatta.
  • Mr Kendagor Obadiah, who is eyeing Kapenguria parliamentary seat on a Jubilee ticket, said the ruling party will win a majority seats in the county but conceded that Prof Lonyangapuo remains a threat.

The outcome of the General Election in Baringo and West Pokot counties will be a major test for Deputy President William Ruto and his nemesis Baringo Senator Gideon Moi.

The two counties, and to some extent the nearby Elgeyo Marakwet, are seen as the last bastions of Kanu and a springboard for Mr Moi in his bid to outwit Mr Ruto.

Last week, the Deputy President hosted an estimated 1,200 people from West Pokot County led by Governor Simon Kachapin. The county’s Senator John Lonyangapuo has been working hard to popularise Kanu.  

Prof Lonyangapuo is a protégé of former President Daniel Moi and has risen from humble beginnings as a brilliant student through to his stint as Principal of Chepkoilel campus of Moi University and later as Permanent Secretary under President Mwai Kibaki.

When Mr Ruto hosted a delegation from West Pokot at his Karen home in Nairobi last year, he did not have kind words for Prof Lonyangapuo — a clear indication of the rift between the two.   

“Delegations are archaic and used to work during the one-party era, we are in multi-party times. Obviously its old Kanu leaders who are hosting delegations. Last year he called me mjinga (stupid), how can a professor of applied Maths be stupid” Prof Lonyangapuo said.

The senator has declared his interest in the governor’s position and is determined to oust Mr Kachapin, who is firmly in Jubilee. Incidentally both were in Kanu in 2013.

DECLARED CANDIDATURE

On Saturday, Mr Lonyangapuo hosted 3,000 elders from Pokot community some coming from as far as Uganda. Interestingly, former Minister Samuel Poghisio, the man Prof Lonyangapuo beat for senate in 2013, has joined Kanu and has declared his candidature for the Senate.   

Observers point that due to his popularity, Prof Lonyangapuo poses a threat to Jubilee’s dominance in the region even though there is general agreement Kanu will support President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Insecurity has also been part of the problems facing the region. Some political observers cite the 2014 Kapedo attack where more than 20 police officers were killed as the turning point in the relationship between Mr Ruto and Mr Lonyangapuo.

Though President Kenyatta visited the area immediately after the attacks, some locals blamed the security operation that followed on the Deputy President.

“Prof Lonyangapuo came in as the defender of the community and he has been sailing high since then,” said one aspirant from the area who didn’t wish to be named. 

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