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Battle to succeed Senator Kipchumba Murkomen begins

Judge Aggrey Muchelule is congratulated by Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen after being sworn in as a court of Appeal judge. [David Gichuru, Standard]

A tough political contest is shaping up in Elgeyo Marakwet as more than 15 hopefuls have expressed interest to succeed Roads Cabinet Secretary nominee Kipchumba Murkomen.

Even before the cabinet nominations were approved by Parliament, a number of candidates have started their campaigns, albeit quietly.

Some hopefuls have been holding strategy meetings in top hotels in Elgeyo Marakwet and the neighbouring Uasin Gishu, while releasing online posters appealing to voters, as they anticipated Murkomen’s nomination to the Cabinet.

Humanitarian and development consultant Jerotich Seii, former Marakwet West MP William Kisang, Soy South Member of County Assembly (MCA) Jonah Tanui and entrepreneur Timothy Kipchumba are those who have thrown their hats in the ring.

 Others are former Elgeyo Marakwet County Assembly Speaker Albert Kochei and lawyer Kiprop Marrirmoi.

"I am ready to resign as Soy South MCA as soon as vacancy in the office of Elgeyo Marakwet Senator is declared. Being a ward rep gave me the opportunity to oversight my county and this experience will enable me serve the county as a Senator," Mr Tanui said.

On Thursday, former Keiyo South MP Jackson Kiptanui and retired Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo announced their bids. Kimaiyo lost to Murkomen in the August 9 polls.

Among the latest entrants in the race is Lawrence Mutwol, a former High School Principal who lost the Marakwet East MP Kangogo Bowen in this year's elections.

Mr Kisang, the former MP lost his bid to represent Marakwet West MP for the third time to political greenhorn Timothy Toroitich.

A number of women, including former nominated MCA Winnie Kanda, are set to highlight the Senatorial contest. Ms Kanda had lost the UDA ticket in the Elgeyo Marakwet Woman Rep primaries in April and joined Mr Murkomen’s campaign team.

On Wednesday, Ms Seii released an online campaign poster that made rounds on social media platforms.

Ms Seii has been endorsed by leaders such as Uasin Gishu woman representative Gladys Boss Shollei and Kakamega Senator Bonny Khalwale.

She was part of the Linda Katiba, movement that was in group that challenged the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).

Shollei said: “Jerotich Seii is a vocal human rights defender and was part of the Linda Katiba movement. I wholeheartedly endorse her candidature for the position of Senator Elgeyo Marakwet.”

Former MCA Neddy Jeruto and Jesca Kiplagat also joined the list of women seeking to succeed the Senator.

Mr Kipchumba, an entrepreneur who co-founded Questworks – a solar and construction company said, if Murkomen is appointed, he will step into his shoes.

“I am a true reflection of bottom up, and I understand the economic model well. Coming from entrepreneurship, I will be the best candidate to support President Ruto’s bottom-up economic model. Elgeyo Marakwet is rife for young leadership,” Mr Kipchumba said

By Saturday, former Governor, Mr Tolgos, was yet to declare whether he was in the race.