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JAP wins Lelmokwo/Ngechek by elections in a tough tussle with Kanu

By Titus Too and Rael Jelimo | June 4th 2016
Voters queue at Cheptarit Primary School Polling Station to cast their ballot in the concluded Lelmokwo/Ngechek by-election

NANDI: Jubilee Alliance Party (JAP) won the just concluded Lelmokwo/Ngechek ward by-elections in Nandi but with a bruising battle with Kanu in the poll that had attracted three candidates.

JAP's Julius Kipkosgei Arusei garnered 3,243 votes against Ezekiel Kipkorir Lelei, popularly known as Bamwai, who scored 2,010 while the third candidate Elphas Kirwa Kimego of Chama Cha Mashinani (CCM) managed 40 votes.

Arusei becomes the new Member of Nandi County Assembly (MCA) representing the elective ward in Chesumei constituency in Nandi County.

The mini poll was occasioned by the death early this year of former MCA Hesbon Metto who was also the deputy speaker in Nandi County Assembly.

Although the Rift Valley political bigwigs kept off the campaigns, Arusei's victory is seen by local Jubilee supporters as a win for Deputy President William Ruto's popularity and JAP in the region.

Announcing the results, Eunice Maru who was the Returning Officer termed the polls transparent and fair and commended all the three candidates and their supporters for the peaceful voting process.

"The entire voting process has been peaceful, we have had no complaints from either voters or candidates," she said after the tallying at St Francis Cheptarit Catholic Church hall in Mosoriot.
During the campaign period, the mini poll was seen to be a so close race between the front runners -Arusei and Lelei and nobody could clearly predict a winner until the final verdict after the tallying proved the victor.

Coincidentally, the surnames of JAP and Kanu's candidates in Kalenjin dialect means oxen and the only difference is the colour. Arusei means a greyish ox while Lelei means a white ox in naming and although there is no history of bull fighting in the community, the contest between the two was competitive.

A section of JAP supporters also admit that there is a resurgence of Kanu after Lelei who carried out a solo campaign hit over 2,000 votes in the by election, narrowing the margin to about 1,200 votes.
During the announcement of the results, Arusei was flanked by Jubilee leaders including area MP Elijah Lagat, Senator Stephen Sang, women representative Zipporah Kering, and former Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Felix Koskei who also participated actively in JAP campaigns.

The leaders took the opportunity to congratulate Arusei and at the same time asked the residents to support the Jubilee government.

Lelei however told The Standard that he was ready to serve residents of Lelmokwo/Ngechek ward but 'people were confused between party politics and service delivery'.

"People were compromised with cash and promises. I had set an agenda and a direction for service delivery to boost the livlihoods," said Lelei who added that fund raisers are still common because of poor leadership and failure to implement pledges for development projects.

He said he will remain firm in politics adding that: "More than 35 top leaders in the county including the governor and those aspiring for the governor's seat, senator, women representative, MP and all those who lost in Jubilee nomination ganged up in campaigning against me".

"They used a lot of resources in the campaigns and only managed slightly over 3,200 votes. I did own campaigns and managed 2,010, an indication that Kanu is still popular," said Lelei.

Kiprotich Cherargei, a youth leader in the region said that they knew JAP would win but were also surprised with the resurgence of Kanu.

"The contest between JAP and Kanu was so close and it was not easy. We did thorough campaigns and knew we were winning as JAP. Resurgence of Kanu was unexpected," said Cherargei.
Elijah Lagat in whose Chesumei constituency falls Lelmokwo/Ngechek ward thanked voters in the region for supporting JAP.

"As area MP who was elected on URP that formed Jubilee with TNA, I am happy because we worked hard and managed to deliver victory for JAP," said Lagat.

The MP claimed that some teachers were in support of Kanu because of the issues with the government over salaries but said that they managed to convince them during the campaigns.

Senator Sang who coordinated the JAP campaigns also congratulated Arusei for the victory and hailed electorates in Lelmokwo/Ngechek ward for supporting the candidate.

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