Politics

Ruto-Moi war turns ugly with removal of deputy Speaker

Ruto-Moi war turns ugly with removal of deputy Speaker
  • Last week, hundreds of Mr Ruto’s supporters, including Baringo ward reps, who took part in the march to demand Ms Tungo’s resignation were teargassed by police.
  • After they were forced out of the streets, the ward reps shifted their anger to their Kanu counterparts in the assembly, beginning with the impeachment of Deputy Speaker Ameja Selemoi.

Deputy President William Ruto and Senator Gideon Moi have turned Baringo County into a theatre for flexing their political muscles.

At the centre of the dispute is Baringo Woman Representative Gladwell Cheruiyot Tungo and the county assembly leadership.

The rivalry escalated when reports of Mr Ruto’s impeachment plan surfaced.

Ms Tungo was among the lawmakers who met at Serena Hotel in Nairobi and issued a statement asking Mr Ruto to respect President Uhuru Kenyatta or resign.

She and Tiaty MP William Kamket are allies of Mr Moi.

The two MPs and the senator were elected on Kanu tickets in 2017.

Ms Tungo read the statement at the hotel, alongside dozens of lawmakers.

A demonstration has been held against her in Kabarnet and some locals have begun collecting signatures to have her recalled from the National Assembly.

Last week, hundreds of Mr Ruto’s supporters, including Baringo ward reps, who took part in the march to demand Ms Tungo’s resignation were teargassed by police.

After they were forced out of the streets, the ward reps shifted their anger to their Kanu counterparts in the assembly, beginning with the impeachment of Deputy Speaker Ameja Selemoi — an ally of Mr Kamket.

Thirty-six of the 45 representatives in the assembly voted to impeach Mr Selemoi.

The representatives accused him of abuse of office, misuse of county resources and assault, but it was clear that it was more about supremacy politics than violation of the law.

“We were provoked to make the decision following the insults by Mr Kamket and Mrs Tungo directed at the Deputy President. We wanted to teach them a lesson,” Mochongoi Ward Rep Kipruto Kimosop said.

“When they champion the resignation of our own, we will also impeach their own at the assembly. We want to put it clear to the world that the assembly and the region is in the Jubilee Party.”

Mr Selemoi said he had done nothing wrong to warrant his removal as deputy Speaker and that he was paying the price for being in Kanu.

“I’m a victim of the Ruto-Moi supremacy battles. I am also a victim of tribal molestation. My impeachment had nothing to do with what I am being accused of,” the Churo-Amaya ward rep said on Thursday after obtaining orders from the High Court reinstating him and barring further action until his case is heard and determined.

“I am not going to take this lying down. Jubilee should brace itself for tough times ahead.”

He got the deputy Speaker’s post in 2017 when Kanu and Jubilee still spoke with one voice, a situation that has drastically changed.

Contacted for comment, Mr Kamket said the impeachment “had nothing to do with Mr Selemoi but everything to do with the DP-Moi supremacy battles”.

He admitted that Jubilee got more votes than Kanu in 2017 but added that he would ensure the situation changes in favour of the independence party in 2022.

“Some people think we are interested in what happened in 2017. Jubilee got a majority of the ward representatives but that was then. We are now talking about 2022. Let them know that things have changed in Baringo. Yesterday’s majority can easily be tomorrow’s minority,” Mr Kamket added.

Ms Tungo was unreachable and did not respond to text message from the Sunday Nation seeking comment.

The recall petition, however, is yet to gather momentum, with some locals saying the woman rep should be allowed to complete her term.

Mr Ruto made a record number of visits to Baringo in 2019.

Baringo and West Pokot are the only counties in the Rift Valley where Mr Moi’s party won a considerable number of seats.

Lately, Mr Moi has also been flexing his muscles as he seeks to increase his influence in the region after he was chosen by his family to take the leadership mantle from his father Daniel arap Moi.

Just days ago, the senator hosted a delegation from Mt Kenya — including former Kiambu governor Ferdinand Waititu — at the family’s Kabarak home. Mr Waititu, a supporter of Mr Ruto, defected to Kanu.

Additional reporting by Flora Koech