Raila, Ruto allies face off in Council of Governors elections

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Deputy President William Ruto and ODM boss Raila Odinga will face off in yet another battle for numbers during the Council of Governors election.

The council will on Thursday elect its officials in a high-stakes election pitting allies of the two leading presidential hopefuls.

“This will be the last election under the current regime and will be responsible for ensuring a smooth transition of the leadership of the Council,” chairman Martin Wambora said.

The polls will be held at the Tamarin hotel. All 47 governors are expected to attend the annual event.

Unlike the previous elections where the county bosses were united and elected their leadership by consensus, this election has divided them down the middle.

The governors are split along Raila and Ruto – the main antagonists in the race for State House. 

It comes in the wake of heightened campaigns and realignments.

According to sources, Raila’s Azimio la Umoja camp is fronting the current chairman, Wambora to retain his seat.

Their UDA counterpart has fronted Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago. Both Wambora and Mandago are second term governors and will retire after the general election in August.

Wambora, Embu Governor, was elected last year to replace his Kakamega counterpart Wycliffe Oparanya.

He is eligible to run for one more term. The council’s leadership for one year term is renewable once.

Raila teams want Kisii Governor and CoG vice chairman James Ongwae to retain the seat.

Ongwae has emerged as one of the most influential faces in the Azimio camp.

He is part of Raila’s campaign team.

UDA is fronting Tharaka Nithi Governor Muthomi Njuki for the vice chairman position.

Njuki is one of the governors from the Mt Kenya region who have declared support for DP’s presidential bid.

“Camps have emerged. We waiting to see how it will go. But I can confirm that for the first time in many years, there will be no consensus but actual vote,” the source disclosed.

The Star has established West Pokot Governor John Lonyangapuo will battle for the whip position under the Azimio banner.

He will face off with UDA’s Stephen Sang (Nandi) who has received the backing of the DP’s troops.

The camps will battle for chairpersonship of the various committees in the council.

They include Health, Finance, and Human Resource committees.

Azimio la Umoja camp has an edge over their UDA counterparts. Both camps will however have to lobby to win the seats.

Two weeks ago, 30 out of the 47 governors declared their support for Raila’s presidency. They comprised governors elected on Jubilee and ODM party tickets.

The AU special envoy enjoys support from governors from his Nyanza backyard, coast, Northeastern, Western and Jubilee controlled counties in Mt.Kenya.

Should the 30 governors continue supporting Raila,  the DP will have 17 governors.

The team picked will take over at a defining moment when the country is headed to a general election where governors serving their second term and final term governors will be critical in deciding the direction the country will take.

The second term and final term governors will leave the plum job that has been synonymous with trappings of power and control over billions of shillings.

The incumbents, it would appear, have limited options for their next course of action in the run-up to the August 8 elections, with the only superior seat to the one they currently hold being the presidency.

Former Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto was the pioneer chairman of the powerful governors’ council.

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