Leaders in Kericho have blamed the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) for parties’ failure to nominate people with disabilities to the county assembly in a debacle that has sparked controversy in the region.
Senate Majority leader Aron Cheruiyot and Governor Erick Mutai said the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) submitted six names from among the youth, the disabled and other special-interest categories to the IEBC for nomination but the agency omitted the names of PWDs.
This also happened in the 2017 polls, when PWDs were left out of the nomination list, with locals blaming former governor Paul Chepkwony’s administration for the mess.
Some 21 counties face the same challenge, with PWDs demanding their rightful share of the slots and claiming that leaders are not doing enough to address the anomaly.
“We are all aware that there has been a justified outcry by people living with disabilities that they have been sidelined in the nomination, with some having moved to court to seek directions,” Mr Cheruiyot stated.
He added: “I want to assure you that the problem is not that of the county administration or UDA. The blame lies squarely on IEBC. When we gave out the list of proposed candidates, we expected the commission to gazette the PWDs, but that did not happen, leading to the current crisis and blame game.”
It comes against the backdrop of claims that undeserving candidates were nominated, with politicians and power brokers rewarding their relatives who were on Tuesday sworn into office for a five-year term.
Dr Mutai fended off claims that he was to blame for the row, saying when the list was released, he was among the first people to protest and brought the matter to the attention of the would-be beneficiaries – Mr Benjamin Koech and Ms Beatrice Langat – who were on the original last but whose names were not gazetted.
“We have agreed with Senator Cheruiyot to assist Ms Koech and Ms Langat to secure job opportunities as a way of making amends, even though the mistake was not ours,” Dr Mutai said.
“As leaders, we understand the pain and disappointment of the PWDs and we will do everything to ensure their issues are addressed.”
The two leaders spoke during a party held in honour of the new Speaker of the county assembly, Dr Patrick Mutai, a former County Executive Committee member for Finance and Economic Planning in the Kericho County government.
Dr Mutai beat former Speaker Dominic Rono with 31 votes against the latter’s 16.
Some of the nominated MCAs are Koskey Kipng’etich Vincent (youth), Opile Noela Omollo (minority), Issack Matkeir (marginalised) and Mercy Njeri Gikonyo (marginalised).
The others are Chepkirui Edinah Tonui, Beatrice Chepkemoi, Korir Fancy Chepkorir, Langat Chepkoech Winny, Chelangat Monica, Chebwogen Evaline, Bavina Chepkirui, Bett Gladys Sang, Chepng’eno Jesca, Langat Irine Chebet, Sirma Lily Chepkemoi, and Chepngeno Gabriela.
The county has been rocked by protests in the last one week over the anomaly in the nominations, with demands that parties review their nomination lists and correct any injustices.