Why Keiyo, Marakwet can’t agree on how to share seats

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2021 00:00 |
Moses Changwony.

Wycliff Kipsang

A bruising political battle is looming in Elgeyo Marakwet county as the rivalry between the Marakwet and Keiyo communities plays out in the run up to the elections.

The Keiyo community was the biggest casualty in 2017 election when it lost the gubernatorial, senatorial and woman representative seats to the Marakwet.

Governor Alex Tolgos, Senator Kipchumba Murkomen and Woman Rep Janet Chebaibai all hail from the Marakwet community.

Opinion is divided on whether to share seats — particularly the governor and senator positions — by consensus between the two communities.

Among those campaigning to succeed Tolgos include former Keiyo South MP Jackson Kiptanui, auditor Bernard Chepkulei and former Sasini Managing Director Moses Changwony. Deputy Governor Wesley Rotich is also in the race.

Also said to be interested in the seat are former Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet and former Marakwet East MP Linah Kilimo. The two are, however, yet to declare their candidature. 

Kiptanui and Boinnet are Keiyo while Kilimo is Marakwet.

Analysts say the Keiyo are likely to lose again if more than one candidate from the community runs for governor.

“The Keiyo will continue being spectators as far as county leadership is concerned if they don’t agree on one candidate.

The Marakwet has used this weakness in the past to sweep all the seats,” said Philip Chebunet, an Eldoret-based political analyst.

In the 2013 election, Tolgos, who vied on a United Republic Party ticket, garnered 71,395 votes, beating Changwony of Kanu who managed 27,304 votes. The county has more than 134,000 registered voters.

Candidates are expected battle it out for the sponsorship of United Democratic Alliance (UDA) which is associated with Deputy President William Ruto.

Kanu is also said to be plotting to present a candidate for the gubernatorial seat.

“We cannot disclose the names of Kanu aspirants at the moment because they are still in the public service and what I can say without doubt is that we shall have a candidate for the Elgeyo Marakwet governor seat as well as the other elective seats,” Elgeyo-Marakwet County Kanu chairman Paul Kibet told People Daily.

Kiptanui, who served for two terms as MP after flooring former powerful Cabinet minister Nicholas Biwott, said his 10-year experience as lawmaker stands him in good stead to be governor.

“I was voted twice as among the best performing MPs in CDF utilisation which we used in transforming the constituency through infrastructure development and I believe steering the county to greater prosperity as a governor will not be hard for me,” said Kiptanui.

He said the county is endowed in terms of agriculture, tourism, sports among other resources which he said the current regime failed to utilise to improve the livelihoods of residents.

Chepkulei, who hails from Kaptum, Keiyo North sub-county, said his politics would be based on issues and ideas that will benefit the people.

“I stand for integrity, accountability, transparency, personal focus and innovations which the current regime has failed to advocate,” said Chepkulei.

Murkomen, a close ally of the Deputy President, who has been harsh critic of Tolgos’ administration, is expected to defend his senate seat.

He has accused Tolgos of poor management during his 10-year tenure, a claim the governor has dismissed.

Tolgos, who has been a key proponent of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) in Rift Valley, has instead accused Murkomen of using the County Assembly to frustrate his administration’s agenda.

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