DP Ruto implicated in the Mau Evictions

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Deputy President William Ruto has now been put on shaky ground following the fresh Mau Forest skirmishes.

Previously DP Ruto accused Raila Odinga over the Mau clashes but the same issue has now come back to haunt him.

Mr Ruto has not talked or visited the area  since the new evictions and fighting starte this has however caused anger among his supporters in the region with the evictions dividing communities in the region.

The most affected residents are the  Kalenjins who happens to be his strongest supporters

The Maasai people have also expresses their dissapointment in the evictions claiming that their livelihoods are threatened by the settlers’ destruction of the forest.

The skirmishes have led to many residents  killed, hundreds wounded and nearly 20,000 displaced on both sides of the warring communities since the hostilities erupted two months ago.

Going by social media updates, a tone of desperation and bitterness is palpable among the Kipsigis who accuse the Mr Ruto of only viewing them as voting machines.

But some analysts feel Mr Ruto is walking a middle ground because he does not want to jeopardise his 2022 presidential ambitions.

Former assistant minister Magerer Langat said it is perturbing that the top Kalenjin leadership has failed to play its part in resolving the crisis.

“They are afraid of confronting the giant in the name of guarding their jobs and 2022 votes,” the former Kipkelion MP said.

Mr Joel Soi, a political analyst and lecturer at University of Kabianga, said the Mr Ruto, who castigated Mr Odinga for similar evictions, had changed tune because of what he termed investment interests that he has in Narok County.

“There are many plots he has acquired; he also has interests in Maasai Mara Game Reserve and more,” he said.

However, Mr Godfrey Sang, a history researcher, defended Mr Ruto saying he is in a Catch-22 situation; not wanting to appear to antagonise the Maasai for the sake of their votes in 2022.

“Ruto’s hands are tied. His strategy of sending Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen and other foot soldiers failed as the powers ignored their clarion call and sanctioned further evictions,” Mr Sang said.

Leaders from both sides feel the fighting is being fuelled by local politics.

Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot claimed the evictions are meant to rid the region of one community, whose numbers are growing so as to balance the political equation.

Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina’s remarks last week that the Maasai want to take back their soil seem to give credence to this view.

Mr Sang agreed, saying the Maasai’s motivation of ejecting the Kipsigis from Narok has nothing to do with the environment but everything to do with the politics of (Narok Governor Samuel) Tunai’s succession.

“The governorship of Mr Tunai, who comes from a minority clan of the Maasai, was leveraged by the Kipsigis. The Maasais must have realised that they may be unable to wield the political power in Narok because of the Kipsigis factor,” he said.

The Kipsigis are worried by the inability of their leaders to unite and either negotiate with the government to find a long-term solution for the evictions, or with their Maasai neighbours for a truce.

Others think this is because the Kipsigis, the largest sub-tribe of the Kalenjin, lack a central political system through which to push their agenda. They do not have a bona fide kingpin currently.

There has not been a replacement yet for former Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto, whose fearless views on local and national issues cost him his seat in the 2017 General Election.

He had passionately shaped the Mau debate, boldly indicating that no evictions would happen in the Mau area without compensation.

He still holds the same stand publicly, but his visibility in the media is blurred because he does not hold any leadership position.

Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter and Kericho Governor Paul Chepkwony are the heavyweights who had been touted for the position of Kipsigis spokesman.

While Mr Keter has not addressed himself publicly on the Mau issue, Prof Chepkwony visited the evictees once and filed a suit on their behalf.

The case ended with the Narok court declining to stop the evictions.

Kericho MPs led by Nelson Koech (Belgut), Hillary Kosgey (Kipkelion West) and Kipsengeret Koros (Soin/Sigowet), have tried to save the day using media platforms to urge President Uhuru Kenyatta to break his silence on the violence and to direct the arrest of Mr Kina for incitement.

The calls have however not borne fruit. According to Mr Soi, Mr Keter cannot play the Kipsigis spokesman’s role at the moment, because he is a government official.

The most probable solution fronted by Kipsigis professionals at the moment is to have a powerful caucus to speak on behalf of the community.

The biggest spokesman of the Kalenjin in Narok, Emurua Dikirr MP Johana Ng’eno, may not want to antagonise the Maasai, who have significant numbers in his constituency.

For the nearly three decades it has been simmering, this conflict has made and ended the political careers of many big shots.

How the DP negotiates the minefields may also determine his own 2022 ambitions.

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