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Ogieks sharply divided over who to replace late Prengei in Senate

POLITICS
By Kennedy Gachuhi | September 9th 2021
Ogiek elders led by Joseph Towett (centre) endorsed Peter Cheruiyot on September 2, 2021. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

At least five people have been fronted by different groups from the Ogiek community as possible replacements for Senator Victor Prengei who died on August 16.

Lobbying for the position has intensified to the point of dividing elders, youth and families from the minority tribe that wants one of their own to serve for the remaining ten months.

Jubilee Party local branch secretary-general Peter Cheruiyot, Emmanuel Saitoti, Mopel Sena, John Samorai, and Donald Kipkoech Ngiria are among the names that have been floated.

Prengei who became the first member of the minority Ogiek community to join Parliament was nominated to the Senate in 2017 to represent youth and special groups.

The party had reserved the slot for a nominee not older than 35, and being an educated member of the minority group gave Prengei an upper hand.

Victor Prengei, January 9, 2018. [Boniface Okendo,Standard

Prior to the August 2017 polls, the ruling party had forwarded Prengei’s name alongside that of Wambui Nyutu to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) for consideration.

Nyutu was subsequently appointed by President Uhuru Kenyatta to the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC).

“I am the service vice chair of the NCIC, a position that I hold dear. In the light of the foregoing, I will not pursue the Senate nomination. I beseech the Jubilee Party to offer the position to a deserving youth,” Nyutu wrote on her Facebook on August 25.

During his burial on August 28 burial, leaders and members of the community appealed to the party to pick an Ogiek for the position.

Jubilee Party Secretary-General Raphael Tuju who spoke to The Standard last week said that party’s National Management Committee that is tasked with picking nominees had received their plea.

In the subsequent developments, different groups in Mariashoni and Nakuru town have come out to propose their persons to be nominated.

On September 2, elders led by Joseph Towett endorsed 38-year-old Cheruiyot, the Jubilee Party Nakuru branch secretary-general.

“We have confidence in Cheruiyot’s capacity to fit in the shoes of the late Prengei. Cheruiyot has remained loyal to the Jubilee Party despite the political drifts,” said Towett.

Peter Cheruiyot in Nakuru on September 9, 2021. [Kipsang Joseph,Standard]

On Monday, another group of elders led by John Sironga endorsed Samorai who had been a close friend of Prengei.

“We arrived at a decision to support Samorai for the nomination after consultations with the community and the family of Prengei,” said Sironga.

The announcement by the second group of elders rattled Prengei's family who distanced themselves from the declaration. The family instead endorsed Prengei’s nephew Emmanuel Saitoti, a 24-year-old university student set to graduate later this year.

Later, Prengei’s personal assistant Mopel Sena told The Standard that he had submitted his papers at the Jubilee Party headquarters and was hoping to have the backing of the community. 

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