The race to succeed Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgos has gathered momentum following the coronation of National Vision Party (NVP) leader Anthony Chelimo last weekend as a Keiyo elder in readiness for the August 9 elections.
Some elders from the Keiyo community held traditional rituals in Cheptem village in Keiyo South sub-county to bless him for the governor’s seat.
He was handed the instruments of power, including a three-legged stool, a spear, a shield and headgear made of the skin of a colobus monkey.
It happened as Mr Chelimo urged voters not to make ballot decisions based on party loyalty but individual candidates’ strengths.
NVP is associated with the late powerful politician Nicholas Biwott.
Mr Chelimo said while NVP supports Deputy President William Ruto’s presidential bid, the DP should allow Rift Valley voters to exercise their free will at the August ballot box and not dictate who should be elected.
The comments followed the DP’s remarks at the weekend that Rift Valley residents should not vote for his critics in the region, saying they had been undermining him.
“As the NVP party, we will support [DP Ruto] for the presidency, but we do not like a scenario where he will come and campaign against us. Let voters decide who among the candidates best suits them,” he said.
Elder Stephen Kimwetich said Mr Chelimo received their blessings to vie for the Elgeyo Marakwet governor’s seat. He will battle it out with United Democratic Alliance (UDA) nominee Wisley Rotich, who is the Elgeyo Marakwet deputy governor, and former Sasini managing director Moses Changwony.
“We have given him the instruments of power and our blessings as elders and he is now ready for the task ahead. He has a well-laid plan to help transform the county by exploiting the vast resources which are lying idle,” he said.
He said Mr Chelimo is sponsoring over 200 children at various schools and hundreds others have secured jobs abroad through him.
In response, the NVP leader said he wants to bring unity in the county by ensuring equitable and fair distribution of county resources and opportunities.
“I have a manifesto and if I win the General Election I will transform the country through job creation, peace building in the Kerio Valley, establishment of cottage industries as well as ensuring prudent management of public funds,” he said.
He said he has picked Mr Benjamin Rotich, a financial manager and an auditor, as his running because of his managerial experience.
“We are a safe pair of hands to take over the leadership of the county and not others who are immature and unqualified to lead. Our six-point agenda to transform the county will see this county experience rapid change,” he said.
Mr Chelimo said that big parties have a tendency to impose the wrong leaders on voters while rejecting better candidates from smaller parties.
He said NVP has fielded 80 aspirants for various political seats, most of them as ward reps, across the country.
“NVP is a party to watch in elections to come. We have already endorsed 80 candidates for the August elections, with two gubernatorial aspirants in Bungoma and Elgeyo-Marakwet,” he said.
“We have two candidates for the woman rep seat in Embu and Trans Nzoia counties, respectively, with about eight candidates for the member of the National Assembly.”