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Murkomen, Cherargei war exposes soft underbelly of Rift Valley politics

 Senator Samson Cherargei and Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen. [File, Standard]

The recent move by Roads and Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen to take Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei to court for defamation has exposed the delicate Rift Valley politics.

The desire to stand tall and attract President William Ruto’s eye and the angling to take over as the region’s supremo has triggered infighting and political machination.

Murkomen had in December last year threatened to take legal action against Cherargei for defamation but on Monday he made good his threat after he filed a petition through Ongoya and Wambolwa Advocates.

The CS in a letter to the Nandi Senator demanded that he apologises for publicly claiming that he (Murkomen) received a hundred million US dollars as a bribe from China Wu Yi between June and October last year following his visit to China.

On November 24, 2023, at a press conference, Cherargei claimed that the CS visited China several times between June and October 2023 and received a bribe of $100 million from China Wu Yi contractors.

“The plaintiff avers that the said words are false and the same were uttered by defendant without any colour of right, excuse or justification. As a result, the plaintiff has suffered injury to his reputation and holds the defendant liable,” Murkomen argues in court papers

According to the CS, the defamatory words were widely covered in the print and electronic media, and the same are still in wide circulation on the Internet, including on the defendant’s verified Facebook page.

He further asserts his intention to maintain the highest standards of ethics and integrity owing to his State office as Cabinet Secretary, and having served in other offices of honour such as Elgeyo Marakwet senator, Chairperson of Devolution Committee of the Senate, Deputy Leader of Majority as well as the Majority Leader in the Senate.

However, the war Cherargei between Murkomen bears all the hallmarks of sibling rivalry informed by supremacy battle and political undertones in President Ruto’s backyard.

With the belief that the Head of State will pick his successor as Rift Valley supremo to avoid the political confusion that his predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta left in his Mount Kenya backyard, politicians majority youthful are jostling to catch Ruto’s eye.

Young and energetic the politicians engage in name-calling, mudslinging and tours around the region as they woo residents.

Cherargei’s political war with Murkomen who is seen as the President’s blue-eyed boy is just one of the many in the region.

The CS enjoys good relations with the Nandi Governor Stephen Sang who is a political nemesis of the senator, a move that created a situation of ‘my enemy’s friends is my enemy,’

An MP in Nandi who sought anonymity said that the political war was inspired by the fact that Cherargei sees Murkomen as an ally of Governor Sang.

He said that the CS position, elevates Murkomen on the political landscape as it allows him to visit every county and speak on behalf of the President and government.

The CS has traversed most Rift Valley’s counties on work-related tours and last month launched a North Rift football tournament meant to bring peace in the volatile region and unite the Elgeyo Marakwet, West Pokot, Baringo, Turkana, Trans Nzoia and Samburu.

However, he has come out to say that he is not keen on succession politics. 

“It is that local, just a political difference informed by who is a friend of who. Cherargei has nothing personal against Murkomen but is fighting for political survival where he believes that by fighting the governor he gets political mileage, and now he has extended it to Murkomen, Sang’s friend,” said the first-time MP.

The recent visit by President Ruto to Kericho and Bomet exposed the political rivalry among governors, senators, and MPs.

In Bomet, Kericho, and Uasin Gishu counties, the governors and senators respectively do not see eye-to-eye over political rivalry.

Some of the leaders who have in the recent past emerged as possible candidates of Rift Valley supremo include Murkomen, Emurua Dikirr MP. Johana Ngeno, Uasin Gishu senator Jackson Mandago, Nandi governor Stephen Sang, Kericho Aaron Cheruiyot, and former Cherangany MP Joshua Kuttuny.

Murkomen, Sang, and Senator Cheruiyot appear to have the President’s ear.

Kutuny has elbowed himself into the ring after mending fences with the Head of State and was recently appointed as the Chairman of the Kenya Copyright Board.

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