Even after expressing his confidence on a national television, Former Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Cheruiyot Keter was trounced by a University Lecturer in the just concluded United Democratic Alliance(UDA) primaries for Kericho gubernatorial position.
Despite his tireless and sleepless rallies accompanied by a heavy budget across the six constituencies in Kericho County, a sharp contrast to his competitor Dr Erick Mutai who depended on the residents to fund his campaigns, Keter polled 60, 342 votes while his competitor, Dr Mutai garnered 126, 038 votes.
At the onset of his political career, the seasoned politician served as the Member of the National Assembly for Belgut for two terms before he was exalted to the position of Assistant Minister for Energy in 2007.
In 2013, he contested Kericho’s senatorial position and won with a landslide. In 2015 he was appointed as the Cabinet Secretary for Energy triggering a by-election in 2016, a position that was taken by his first cousin Aron Cheruiyot.
Looking back to the genesis of his unexpected fall, things started falling apart when he faced bitter and biting criticism from his home ground and beyond. Kericho residents had already declared his bid to run for the gubernatorial seat unfit citing poor relationship with the residents.
Having been successful in politics for a while, Keter was optimistic that he would merrily grab the UDA ticket and the seat undefeated. “I have not lost an election in more than twenty years I have been in politics. I am not about to lose the Kericho gubernatorial contest. I am well prepared for the battle ahead and I can assure you that I will deliver it,” he said during an interview.
The sentiment “I am resigning to focus my energies on contesting for the seat of Kericho Governor on August 9th under the UDA party ticket” clearly shows that he already ambitioned for the race. Charles held dusk to dawn campaigns both in areas where he had already faced broad rejection and in his tower areas. Having seasoned politicians for supporters behind, including the very vocal MPs from the region, Mr Silvanus Maritim(Ainamoi), Mr Hillary Koskey (Kipkelion West), Mr Nelson Koech(Belgut) and Kericho Women Representative Florence Bore would make one think he was already in for the bid.
Unfortunately, most of his cronies failed to grab the UDA tickets.
His swift fall was marked by residents plucking his posters in broad daylight at his home town citing unemployment issues, poor communication channels with the locals and nepotism. The road became rough and bumpy after it was alleged that he owns tea plucking machines used by tea companies, a move that laid off countless workers on the farms. In one of his rallies, he came out and refuted the claims saying that he would never rob anything from the public.
This, however, did not win their hearts. It was also alleged that the former CS was not on good terms with Deputy President William Ruto. It was assumed that he was a close confidant of Gideon Moi who is termed as a rival to Dr Ruto. In one of the burial ceremonies attended by the trio, Mr Moi said “while Keter is a friend to the Deputy President during the day, he is my associate at night. Do not bother where his loyalty lies,”
In a way to retract the statement, he resorted to clear the claims during a function attended by Mr Ruto at Moi Gardens in Kericho. “I have been by the DP’s side for a very long time and we have covered the ground together. I wish to make it clear that I am in UDA to stay,” he stated.
All along, his competitors were burning the candles at both ends. He branded himself a “transformer” while Dr Mutai branded himself as an “equalizer.”
Fate seems to have taken the floor. Dr Mutai teamed up with Engineer Fred Kirui as his Deputy and as much as he (Kirui) had stepped down from the gubernatorial race, he polled 4, 954 votes. Their campaigns revolutionized and indeed bore fruits.
Upon reception of the results, Keter took to social media to congratulate his supporters without succinctly conceding. “I thank the great people of Kericho for turning up to vote peacefully in the just concluded nominations exercise. Congratulations to all winners, I wish them all the best,” read his tweet.
However, his next move in politics is not known.