Elgeyo Marakwet's new governor Wisley Rotich had been dismissed as underdog

Elgeyo Marakwet governor-elect Wisley Rotich

Elgeyo Marakwet governor-elect Wisley Rotich (right) receives his election certificate from County Returning Officer Charles Mutai in Iten.

Photo credit: Fred Kibor | Nation Media Group

Elgeyo Marakwet Deputy Governor Wisley Rotich will be stepping in the shoes of his boss Alex Tolgos at the age of 34, after being declared winner in the gubernatorial race.

The former banker received 147,705 votes on a United Democratic Alliance (UDA) ticket, with his closest competitor, National Vision Party (NVP) leader Anthony Chelimo coming second with 11,759 votes.

However, Mr Rotich’s greatest victory was at the UDA primaries, with the election more of a rubber stamp.

He bagged the UDA party ticket for the Elgeyo Marakwet gubernatorial seat in April, in what turned out to be a generational contest pitting him against seasoned professionals.

UDA nominations

He had battled former inspector-general of police Joseph Boinnet, University lecturer Loice Kipkorir, former Eldoret National Polytechnic Principal Josphat Sawe and Sammy Tangus, an engineer, in the hotly contested UDA nominations and trounced them all by an unassailable lead.

It was no mean victory for Mr Rotich, considering that he had only assembled a modest campaign machinery compared to his rivals.

Many had dismissed him as an underdog in terms of age and experience.

There was even a time the elders said he was yet to attain the age to lead a county. They had urged him to withdraw from the race and back his competitors, who were senior, more experienced and more educated.

But he proved his critics wrong when he was declared the winner in the just concluded elections.

Murkomen wins third term

At the same time, Mr Kipchumba Murkomen won a third term as Elgeyo Marakwet senator with 141,091 votes, trouncing Mr Tolgos who was eyeing the seat on a Jubilee ticket and who got 20,684 votes

But UDA failed to clinch the woman rep’s post with its candidate Jane Chebaibai losing to independent candidate Caroline Ngelechei who polled 104,928 votes. Ms Chebaibai managed 58,726 votes.

In her acceptance speech, Ms Ngelechei said the will of the people had prevailed since she had been robbed of her victory during nominations.

“During the nomination process we complained about how it was conducted but there was no one to listen to us. But this victory has vindicated us and is proof the entire process was unfair,” she said.

Ms Ngelechei said she owed the victory to the electorate from across the county who believed in her leadership and chose to vote for her without heeding the six-piece voting call.

Keiyo South MP

In Keiyo South, Gideon Kimaiyo of UDA won the MP’s seat with 35,881 votes in results declared by Returning Officer Sella Malamba. He trounced Kanu candidate Micah Kigen who polled 12,068 votes and Jubilee’s Florence Kipyas who got 361 votes.

Earlier, there was a standoff at the Keiyo South constituency tallying centre after the MP-elect led MCA candidates to storm the station demanding the immediate release of the results.

“We have waited for two days and each time we are being asked to be patient. Our patience is running out and we demand the results,” protested Mr Kimaiyo.

But Ms Malamba said there were logistical issues and asked for more time to declare the results.

In his victory speech, Mr Kimaiyo, 34, dedicated the win to his late mother saying she struggled to bring him up together with his siblings.

“I am a PhD student because my mother had been an avid lover of education despite raising us from obscurity. I will continue to champion for education in the constituency,” he said.

Thanked his competitors

The MP-elect thanked his competitors saying he will ensure that they work together and realise an improved economic development in the region.

“I will work with all the leaders to ensure the collapsed fluorspar company which offered an economic lifeline to the semi-arid Kerio Valley is revived. I shall also agitate for the revival and construction of Kimwarer dam, which was cancelled,” he said.

Conceding defeat, Mr Kigen congratulated the winner saying the win was for the people of Keiyo South.

“We fought a good fight, competed peacefully and campaigned in harmony. And above all, Keiyo South is bigger than any individual,” said Mr Kigen in a statement.

Unlike in other counties in the North Rift region, independent candidates, dented the UDA’s dominance in Elgeyo Marakwet County.

Independent candidates elected

Four candidates were successfully elected as independents after swimming against a strong UDA tide in the region regarded as the bastion of Deputy President William Ruto.

It was a rematch of sorts after disgruntled UDA party nomination losers who had opted to vie as independents mounted spirited campaigns, which culminated into wins.

In the run-up to the general election, DP Ruto visited the area and rallied the electorate to vote in candidates in his UDA party.

“Give us all the UDA candidates because I have gone around the country making friends [who] have agreed to vote [using the] six-piece pattern,” said the DP in Iten with the locals jeering UDA candidates they did not like when Dr Ruto introduced them.

Marakwet West MP

Lawyer Timothy Kipchumba, an independent candidate, trounced UDA’s Marakwet West MP William Kisang after garnering 27,803 votes against the incumbent who polled 17,749 votes. Mr Kisang was defending his seat for a third term.

Mr Kipchumba, 35, a practicing advocate and a former legal counsel at the Elgeyo Marakwet county assembly, said his campaign strategy of being an agent of change propelled him to surmount the strong UDA euphoria the region was experiencing.

“The people were yearning for a leadership change and even after I was trounced in the shambolic party nomination in April by Mr Kisang, it is the electorate who prevailed upon me to vie as an independent candidate,” said the MP elect after being handed the victory certificate by Marakwet West Constituency Returning Officer Joseph Lotukoi.