As Bomet Governor Hillary Barchok settles in office, his next big assignment will be his choice of the deputy governor.
Moments after Dr Barchok took an oath of office, a message from the Council of Governors delivered through Narok Governor Samuel Tunai was that he should be deputised by a woman for the remainder of his term.
“It is the wish and request of the council that you pick a female deputy in honour of the late Governor Laboso, and also to support and push for gender parity in the country,” read the message.
Barchok took over the management of the county following the death of Joyce Laboso, who was buried last week at her home in Fort Ternan in neighbouring Kisumu County.
The swearing-in ceremony, which came two weeks after Dr Laboso succumbed to cancer, was attended by Deputy President William Ruto and governors Stephen Sang (Nandi), Paul Chepkwony (Kericho) and Stanley Kiptis (Baringo).
During the swearing-in ceremony, County Secretary Evaline Rono handed Barchok the instruments of power, including the county seal and flag.
Justice George Dulu presided over the ceremony that was witnessed by hundreds of residents who had gathered at Bomet Green Stadium.
The deputy president urged Bomet residents to support Barchok in his journey, adding that his presence during the swearing-in ceremony was a clear indication that he had the support of the Government.
Ruto said just like the Government had worked with Laboso, it would work with Barchok to ensure Laboso’s vision for the people of Bomet was achieved.
Ruto asked Barchok to work with fellow leaders and the people of Bomet.
“Make friends, more so with the people of Bomet. These are people I understand and they cannot be easily cheated. They know what they went and they will demand it from you,” Ruto said.
The DP asked the county assembly to assist the governor and at the same time play their oversight role and hold him accountable.
The push for Barchok to appoint a female deputy is being orchestrated by women leaders, including Kirinyaga Governor Ann Waiguru and her Kitui counterpart Charity Ngilu who made their intentions clear during Laboso’s burial.
Senior Jubilee officials also want a female deputy governor though not necessarily from the Laboso family.
Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga is also on record urging Barchok to appoint a woman as his deputy.
“I thought that is taken for granted. That is not an issue really. Because a woman was a governor and a man was her deputy, now when the woman governor has left the position, it is automatic that a woman would become a deputy governor. I don’t think that should be an issue,” Raila said during Laboso’s funeral.
Among the women that could be handed the seat are County Chief of Staff Jayne Sigilai, Laboso’s sister Judy Laboso, former Woman Rep Cecilia Ngetich, and former senatorial aspirant Stacy Chepkemoi.
Residents have also floated the name of Education Executive Juliana Yegon. The former principal of Moi Siongiroi Girls School vied for the Sotik parliamentary seat in 2017 but lost to Dominic Koskei.
Governor Tunai said appointing a woman as deputy governor would be a sign of respect to Laboso.
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