The minority Pokot community in Tiaty, Baringo County is now pushing to have the position of the Speaker of the county assembly, formerly held by the area MP William Kamket.
Since 2013 when devolution took root, all the top county seats, including the Governor, Senate and Woman Representative have been held by the Tugen community residing in the five sub-counties namely Eldama Ravine, Mogotio, Baringo North, Baringo Central and Baringo South.
Due to their small numbers, the marginalized Pokot community has not managed to get major elective positions in the county since the advent of devolution, a situation that has been worsened by the perennial insecurity menace where they are perceived as aggressors.
Deputy President William Ruto (third right) with the Kenya kwanza coalition members at Ilng'arua in Baringo South after being crowned by elders from the minority and marginalized communities.
The group are rooting for representation in parliament and other appointments, claiming that they have been locked out by subsequent governments owing to their small numbers.
They are now pushing for an affirmative action in the region's leadership, calling on the majority Tugen ward representatives to consider electing the next speaker of the county assembly from the community.
The same consensus worked in 2013, where the Pokot were awarded the Speaker’s slot (William Kamket) as a way of accommodating all the communities in the county leadership.
All gubernatorial candidates in the county in this year’s election come from the dominant Tugen community, including Governor Stanley Kiptis, former governor Benjamin Cheboi and Eldama Ravine MP Moses Lessonet.
Both candidates have named their deputies from the same community, a move that has angered the minority and marginalized communities in the region who did not field a candidate in the major elective seats due to their small numbers.
The closest the Pokot community has ever tried to vie for a top elective seat in the county was in 2013 where a former education official Susan Nakoru (KANU) vied unsuccessfully for the post of Woman Representative.
Mr Richard Kitilit, a professional from remote Silale in Tiaty East raised concern that due to their small numbers, the community has been sidelined over the years. He says it has been forgotten in the sharing of the ‘county cake’.
High illiteracy levels
The situation, he stated, has been aggravated by poor development in the region and high illiteracy levels where locals cannot agitate for their own rights.
“Since independence, Tiaty, formerly East Pokot has been marginalized and lagged behind in development which has also contributed to high poverty and illiteracy levels in the area. The other communities are far much ahead of us and they are now sidelining us in major issues, including county leadership. To worsen the situation, our numbers are small to field our own candidate in the major elective seats,” said Mr Kitilit.
According to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) 2022 register, Baringo County has 271,977 registered voters with Eldama Ravine constituency leading with 57, 734, Baringo North (43,575), Baringo Central (40,919), Baringo South (37, 004), Mogotio (34, 106) and Tiaty (31,171).
Mr Kitilit said conflicts and other parameters should not be used to deprive them of leadership yet we live in the same region.
“As a matter of fact, those causing mayhem are a few criminals and not the entire community as perceived, and for such a region to be at par with others, they need representation to agitate issues affecting them,” he said.
“For this reason, MCAs should consider the post of the Speaker of the county assembly from the Pokot. That is all we are asking,” said the professional.
He said the ‘bad blood’ between them and their neighboring communities in the county has gone to an extent that whenever they ask for representation, they are reminded to first sort out the runaway insecurity menace.
Baringo County assembly minority leader Sam Lourien said they are now lobbying like-minded ward representative candidates to consider their requests to ensure equal representation.
“We have also approached gubernatorial candidates to appoint at least three executives from the Pokot community, and the ward representatives to give us a speaker or if it comes to worst, a deputy speaker. We will not be in the same county yet a particular community, because of their influence is calling the shots. Our voting pattern in August will be pegged on what the gubernatorial candidates will bring us on the table,” said Mr Lourien.
He said the purpose of devolution was to see all regions get equality in development and sharing of positions, which he said is not happening in Baringo.
“Baringo County does not value marginalized and minority communities like the Pokot and the Ilchamus, a situation that has seen the dominant Tugen community run the show over the years,” he said.
“The animosity emanated from the perennial insecurity menace where we have been branded as the aggressors. If this discrimination continues then we will seek redress in court,” he threatened.
Deputy President put to task
The representation issue came up during the recent tour of Deputy President William Ruto, with the minority Ilchamus community putting him to task on his agenda he has for the minorities and marginalized groups.
The DP promised affirmative action to ensure that the minority communities are represented.
“Through the creation of an office of the minority communities, we now have data. I want to assure the group that through the Kenya Kwanza alliance, we will come up with a commission that will address all the issues in the Constitution that targets them and are implemented,” the DP said.