Hillary Barchok was on Friday declared the winner of the Bomet governor race.
An official from the electoral agency awarded him an interim certificate, to the cheer and songs of supporters.
The announcement, which was made at Santa Giuseppina Bakhita Technical Institute of Bomet, was preceded by chaos in Bomet town, when supporters of Isaac Ruto clashed with Barchok’s supporters, with Ruto’s supporters declaring their win before the results were announced.
Barchok, who took over the office following the passing of Dr Joyce Laboso, won the gurbenatorial race with 158,798 votes, ahead of Isaac Ruto, who garnered 137,325 votes. Other competitors were Andrew Kibet Toweet who got 508 votes, and Benard Chepkwony Mutai who got 1,915 votes.
Speaking after his declared win, Mr Barchok expressed his gratitude to Bomet residents for voting for him, and promised to make sure that Bomet County develops into an economic hub.
“What is important now is that we work for the residents of Bomet. It doesn’t matter whether you voted for me or not, everyone will benefit from my government. We may have said hurtful things about each other during campaigns, and we apologise. I intend to work with all my competitors to make Bomet better,” said Barchok.
“I am excited. In 2017, I came into this county government as running mate then as a deputy governor to Dr Joyce Laboso, and when she rested, I took over as county governor. This was my first campaign, nomination, and general election as a candidate. Emerging a victor in such a vigorous exercise takes the hand of God, and I am happy,” he added.
He explained that despite the chaos that had been witnessed in the afternoon hours of Thursday, he is confident that the elections were free and fair, transparent.
“Borrowing from what we are seeing in other areas, we haven’t heard any serious complaints in terms of rigging. Because the documentation was open. If anyone is complaining that there was monkey business, and they have evidence, there is a legal way of redress, and they can go to court,” he said.
I want to thank my competitors, and would like to single out Isaac Ruto and Mutai, and tell them that Bomet belongs to all of us. We should now reunite and ensure that we deliver what our people expect from us. A leader is a leader, and that doesn’t change even when they don’t get elected. I call upon them to support me for a better Bomet.
Barchok promised Bomet county residents that he will deliver on the promise he made during the campaigns to transform the county. These, he said, include addressing unemployment of the youth. To address this, he explained that he will invest in agriculture and value addition to open up opportunities for the youth who have graduated but stacked their certificates in their houses due to lack of job opportunities.
The way to go, he said, is to empower the farmer to allow them get value for their investments, and to provide jobs for the youth.
“We want to employ the youth in our cooperatives, private factories and other sectors. I look forward to expanding the number of cottage industries that will be constructed in Bomet. It is my vision that at the end of five years, we will have economic empowerment for our people,” he said.
He also added that the blame that water insufficiency in the county falls on his shoulders is propaganda, noting that his government has protected springs, dug boreholes and dams, and that plans to construct an oster dam were interrupted by politics
He explained that Itare dam, which is one of the main water point din the county, and is shared between Bomet and Kericho County, has become less efficient because of old engines and equipment, and that Bomet and Kericho counties and Lake Victoria south had partnered, with each contributing 20 million shillings towards its refurbishment to increase the water levels.
“We partnered with Red Cross to launch the Chebang’ang’ project, which will help residents from Boito, Kimulot and people from Chepchabas to get water. That is a clear commitment that we want to solve the issue of water. We also have an ongoing Nyongores, Longisa, Mulot water project that is ongoing, whose 1.6 billion funding got from African Development Bank. The project should be complete in the next 12 months,” he said.
Other winners in the Bomet leadership include Hillary Sigei, who has been declared senator, and 25 year old Linet Chepkorir, popularly known as Toto, who has been declared Woman Representative in the county.
Ms Chepkorir has vowed to help women in the county benefit through women groups, and to empower the youth and people with disabilities through community based organisations.
“This win means you do not have to be fifty years to be elected. It takes courage and sacrifice to vie for the poisition. You also need to believe in yourself. I am grateful that Bomet County residents believed, trusted and supported me, and finally gave me their votes. I won’t take it for granted, and we will work with them to make Bomet great and to make it one of the best counties in this country,” she said.