Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula and Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa could be headed for a major political battle over the Trans Nzoia governorship.
The two are likely to influence the decision on who will succeed Governor Patrick Khaemba, who is serving his second and final term.
Several aspirants are crisscrossing the county to seek the support of residents. Wetang’ula and Eugene are supporting rival aspirants.
Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa of Ford Kenya launched his plan for the county’s top seat more than two years ago and is leading the pack.
Ford-Kenya is the dominant party in the region and Khaemba was elected on the party’s ticket.
MP Wamalwa has the advantage of being Wetang’ula’s close ally.
“I will vie for the governor seat and our plans are well on course,” he said.
Eugene has for long been mentioned as a possible contender for the seat but recently appeared to publicly support Rift Valley regional commissioner George Natembeya.
“We will be coming around for real politics at the right time. There are so many who have already danced themselves lame before the main dance. We will walk with people like Natembeya as we seek the right leadership for our county,” Eugene said in Kitale.
Should he either decide to vie or back Natembeya, he will come face to face with Wetang’ula, whose party has for years dominated Trans Nzoia politics.
The CS has a considerable following in the county and will complicate the race should he run or back another aspirant.
MP Wamalwa and Eugene are considered to have well-oiled machinery for the race to succeed Khaemba.
Natembeya has confirmed that he will be in the race to succeed Khaemba but has yet to decide the party through which he will vie.
Recently, he visited ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi in Nairobi, sparking speculation that he may fly the party’s flag.
“At the moment, I am still serving in government and we will make decisions at the right time,” Natembeya said.
Over the last few months, he has stirred political waters in the region with a series of activities that have put him as a front runner.
Speculation is also rife that Eugene’s allies have registered a party on whose ticket Natembeya will run, considering the current close relationship between ANC and Ford-K which may see the two parties avoiding rivalry in the region.
Political analysts say Natembeya will be a force to reckon with no matter the party he will use.
Others expected in the race are businessman Kakai Bisau who vied unsuccessfully in the last election; Woman Representative Janet Nangabo; and Prof Ben Wanjala.
Deputy President William Ruto’s UDA party is also expected to field a candidate.
The region is cosmopolitan, with the Luhya community being dominant followed by the Sabaot, Kikuyu, Kisii and Marakwet. Alliances among the communities will play a critical role in determining who takes over from Khaemba.
Cheranganyi MP Joshua Kutuny said residents are keen to elect a person with a vision for the unity of communities in the region and one able to take Trans Nzoia to the next level of development.
“All the people want is a uniting leader who will also focus on development priorities where much more needs to be done so that we alleviate poverty and improve the lives of residents,” Kutuny said.
For Khaemba, the focus is to complete projects he initiated before his term ends next year. He, however, faces an uphill task as his main project, the Kitale Teaching and Referral Hospital, has stalled, though he has promised to complete it.
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