Why President Ruto’s Grip On Kisii Politics Is Slippery

Politicians allied to President William Ruto in Kisii regions are said to have fallen out badly as a result of a severe rift between the so-called old ‘Guard and the young Turks’. One camp is composed of youthful MPs led by Silvanus Osoro while the other is composed of elderly politicians led by former Kisii County Governor Governor James Ongwae.

The division has forced top State House operatives to advise the president to pitch a tent in the region to tame his dwindling political influence in the region. Despite his dismal performance in the two counties at the last elections, President Ruto’s many trips there have yet to produce any tangible results. That the president is on the charm offensive in the region yet again cannot be overstated; however, analysts opine that the region has failed to respond favourably to his quest mainly because of opposition leader Raila Odinga’s influence among a majority of the population.

 The fallout has dented the president’s political influence in the region, with the old guard, the majority of whom defected from ODM/ Azimio now demanding respect from the young Turks who were elected in the last general elections. The old guard, led by former Kisii Governor James Ongwae, former senator Chris Obure, and Prof. Sam Ongeri, along with former ODM-nominated senator Janet Ongera, claim that the young leaders lack respect. The young Turks are said to be giving the old guard sleepless nights who perceive them as Johnny come late political opportunists.

 The group of defectors has been left in political oblivion by the young Turks led by Majority Whip in Parliament also South Mugirango MP Silvanus Osoro, former Kisii deputy governor Joash Maangi, Bomachoge Chache MP Miruka Ondieki, and North Mugirango MP Joash Nyamoko. The big fallout is what has made President Ruto make endless trips to the two counties of Kisii and Nyamira, his first trip was to Osorio’s South Mugurango.

 Last week’s meeting in Nyaribari Chache was purely a UDA party affair where opposition leaders were never invited, the Nyaribari Chache meeting was different. Ruto had invited all elected leaders across the political divide, and they were all in attendance. Sources say the president is employing a different strategy to penetrate the Abagusii nation by pretending to be ready to work with and accommodate all elected leaders. The big question is what is Ruto’s interest in the region? First, analysts say that he is very much aware that, come 2027, he cannot receive the same number of votes he got from the Mount Kenya region. Therefore, there is a need to top up and improve his performance in the two counties of Kisii and Nyamira.

 During the last elections, in Kisii County with 637,111 registered voters, Raila Odinga garnered 265,078 votes against William Ruto’s 135,326 votes. In Nyamira County, with 323,283 registered voters, Raila Odinga garnered 129,025 votes against William Ruto’s 78,356 votes. Going by the above number, William Ruto is surely trying to make inroads into the region to recover votes he is likely to lose in the Mount Kenya region. In his new strategy, the president is trying to lure elected Azimio leaders to work with him, as the ground has been very hostile for the Kenya Kwanza leaders in both Nyamira and Kisii counties.

However, the community claims that William Ruto has sidelined the region in the sharing of the national cake, especially on state appointments. This will make the ground even more hostile against him. Attempts have been made to reconcile the old guard and the young Turks, but no tangible results have been achieved. The young Turks claim that the old guards have not brought anything to the table as they defected as individuals and left their supporters in Azimio. Analysts now say that for Ruto to make serious political inroads in the region, he must be ready to sacrifice some of his political allies, especially the old guard.

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