Hillary Barchok, Isaac Ruto, John Musonik peace pact as polls near

Bomet Governor Prof Hillary Barchok hosted Chama Cha Mashinani Party leader Isaac Ruto and Former Petroleum CAS John Mosonik at his office in the company of Kipsigis Myoot Council of elders and Clergy for talks ahead of a prayer day slated for February 26, 2022. [Gilbert Kimutai, Standard]

Bomet Governor Hillary Barchok and his two rivals in the quest for the county’s top job were on Tuesday brought together to discuss unity of the devolved unit.

Dr Barchok faces opposition from Chama Cha Mashinani (CCM) party leader Isaac Ruto, and former Petroleum Chief Administrative Secretary John Mosonik. Barchok ascended to the position after Joyce Laboso died in 2019.

The three leaders have since declared support for Deputy President William Ruto of UDA. While Barchok and Mosonik are hoping to bag the UDA ticket, Ruto will be running on his CCM party.

On Tuesday, the Kipsigis Myoot Council of Elders and representatives of local clerics brought the contenders together in a meeting to foster unity and ensure peace ahead of the elections.

The elders and the religious leaders said they intervened to ensure the three were on talking terms ahead of the county prayer day slated for Saturday.

Conveners of the Tuesday’s meeting said they did not want to see what was witnessed at Bomet Green Stadium during the tour by the Deputy President last month, when Barchok and the former governor clashed, nearly bringing the meeting to a premature end.

The drama started at the county offices where Ruto was blocked from accessing the venue, where the DP was meeting local leaders before the rally at the Bomet Green Stadium.

Retired bishop Paul Leleito, who is the Kipsigis Myoot Council of Elders chairman, said the clash painted the county and its leadership in bad light, adding that they hoped the same would not be witnessed.

“The leaders have agreed to a truce to ensure unity of the county ahead of the elections,” said Bishop Leleito, who chaired the meeting. He said the three apologised and forgave each other, and promised to carry out peaceful campaigns.

“It may look strange but the three will meet frequently and share a meal to review what we have agreed on and ensure none is causing divisions,” he said.

Leleito said anyone going against what they had agreed on should prepare to face the consequences. “We are happy that some of the leaders are already preaching peace and focusing on development. Anyone who goes against what we have agreed on today will be dealt with and this will include urging voters to shun them,” he said.

Ruto said of the differences: “We have been able to resolve them with the help of the elders and the clergy. As agreed, campaigns in Bomet will be issue-based and peaceful, and there will not be personal attacks on opponents. We shall focus on selling ideas, not attacking one another.”

Musonik said: “We shall endeavor to show maturity as we campaign. This will be the first step to ensure Bomet shakes off that tag of violence that has stuck with us for a long time.

“The three of us are keen on setting an example of peaceful campaigns that will leave our county united. Everyone will be free to look for votes anywhere without being heckled or attacked.”

Barchok told residents not to be surprised when they see him and his two rivals share a meal frequently in their homes. “We’ll stick to what we’ve agreed on. Every week, we will be visiting one another in our homes and sharing a meal. It sounds strange and almost impossible but we will do it for the sake of our county,” the governor said.

Members of the clergy who are organizing the county prayer day, led by Bishop Wilson Koskei, said they will not allow politics at the event.