Clan politics, party affiliation to play a key role in Elgeyo Marakwet senate mini poll

Jackson Kiptanui

Jackson Kiptanui (left), Albert Kochei and William Kisang. They have declared interest in the vacant  Elgeyo-Marakwet senate seat

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

As the race to replace Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, who was appointed as Transport, Roads and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary takes shape, party affiliation and clan politics are expected to play a big role in determining the by-election outcome.

The seat has attracted more than 30 aspirants after it was declared vacant by Senate Speaker Amason Kingi with some of the contenders already hitting the ground running in what is expected to be a battle between the Marakwet and Keiyo clans in the region where President William Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party enjoys a near-fanatical following.

Mr Murkomen, who took office on Thursday as Roads CS, clinched the seat during the August 9 General Election on a UDA ticket in a landslide victory, elbowing out his close challenger former Governor Alex Tolgos of Jubilee Party with 141,091 votes against Mr Tolgos’ 20,648. 

Elgeyo Marakwet is viewed as a UDA zone and candidates aligned to the ruling Kenya Kwanza government are expected to have an upper hand.

Those eyeing the seat include former Marakwet West MP William Kisang and former county assembly Speaker Albert Kochei.

Others are entrepreneur Dan Ruto aka D-square, Daniel Kipkemoi aka Damboi, George Bett, Abigael Jerotich, Gladys Maiyo, Jesca Kiplagat aka Chebomuren, Florence Jepkosgei aka Toto, Anne Cheboi, lawyers Hillary Cheboi and Kiprop Marrirmoi.

They will join former Keiyo South MP Jackson Kiptanui (Keiyo South), human rights activist Jerotich Seii, politician Lawrance Mutwol, Mr Kochei, incumbent Soy South MCA Jonah Tanui, menthorthon president and entrepreneur Tim Kipchumba for the race.

Independent candidate

Mr Kisang (UDA) lost to independent candidate Timothy Kipchumba Toroitich in the parliamentary race. He garnered 15,481 votes, coming second after Mr Toroitich, who polled 24,563 votes. 

Mr David Kiprono Sudi of The New Democrats Party was third with 227 votes.

Mr Kisang is banking on his development track record for the two terms he represented Marakwet West, apart from the fact that he hails from the populous Marakwet clan.

“My decade-long track record is clear because the constituency has experienced tremendous development in the road network. I expanded the tarmac to over 100 kilometres as well as electricity connectivity from a paltry 4 per cent to 50 per cent,” the former MP told Nation.Africa.

“I did not lose the seat because of underperformance but because a record has been set for MPs in the constituency to serve for two terms only,” he said.

Ms Seii, a vocal activist from the ‘Linda Katiba caucus’ who was part of the team who went to court to challenge the Building Bridges Initiative is banking on her experience in championing the rights of the people, which she believes, will give her an edge during the campaigns.

 “I have been working with other activists to promote the rule of law and improve the lives of ordinary Kenyans. I have been instrumental in ensuring Kenya Power under the Switch off KPLC to expunge vending of bills which had been expensive to Kenyans. I have also been a commentator on issues affecting Kenya and I am optimistic the seat is mine,” she told Nation.Africa in an interview.

On his part, Mr Kochei said he will champion greater allocations to counties and strengthen devolution since during his tenure as an assembly speaker he experienced the gap in devolved units.

“I have stood for defending devolution, I am a believer of the Bottom-up economic model,” he said.

Ward Representative Tanui believes he is the right candidate to succeed Mr Murkomen.

“As an MCA I performed my role effectively and mooted several bills. In the Senate, I want to continue with legislation and advocacy towards compensation of land owners and reopening of the collapsed Fluorspar mines,” he said.

If elected, he has promised to champion cooperatives and the SACCO movement as a key instrument towards economic revival, re-classification of roads, opening of the valley to irrigation. He has also promised to work with other security agencies to curb insecurity in Kerio Valley.