Elders call for truce as Kericho governor, deputy fight intensifies

Kericho Governor Erick Mutai and his deputy Fred Kirui. [Nikko Tanui, Standard]

Local elders have called a truce between Kericho Governor Erick Mutai and his deputy Fred Kirui even as the leadership wrangles between them intensified on Thursday during Madarak Day celebrations.

Mutai and Kirui differed publicly during the celebrations with the deputy governor telling his boss that respect is two-way and that the county chief should know that the governorship was a joint ticket.

Speaking on Friday, just a day after the Madaraka Day celebrations, Joel Kimetto, the Secretary General of the Kipsigis Community Clans Association, termed the fight as unnecessary and meant to derail development.

"As a people, a community, we are not happy with what we are seeing between the two leaders. Very soon we are going to convene a reconciliation meeting to discuss the way forward. We will discuss how we can reconcile the two leaders," Kimetto said.

He added: "If the leaders continue to fight and the residents are waiting for development, where are we heading now?"

On Thursday, Kirui told the county chief to respect him just as much as he wanted to be respected.

"I have been more than willing to spearhead development programmes in the county. I even offered my expertise in resolving the perennial water shortage in Bureti but I have been ignored," Kirui told a crowd in Leitein.

He added: "I have traversed Bureti sub-county including visiting the Itare water project in Konoin sub-county. It is unfortunate I have been using my resources to fuel my car to work for the county."

According to Kirui, there was a pre-election agreement between him and the governor that would have seen them share county leadership in the ratio of 40:60.

He claims that Mutai did not consult him in the nomination of County Executive Committee Members.

And when he stood to speak, the governor said: "My deputy has invited me for a discussion over the failed implementation of the 2022 pre-election MoU. My deputy is entitled to some litres of fuel, which is about 150 litres, and if he wants, I will double it. He is also entitled to one chase car like me, but if he wants, I can still add another one."

Mutai dismissed Kirui's claims and told him not to discredit his administration, but instead work with him to improve the lives of residents.

"We must put aside our selfish interests and work together for the sake of unity and development for our people. If there is any issue, we must not wash our dirty linen in public," he said.

In May this year, Mutai overlooked his deputy and appointed a junior officer to run the county in his absence. A letter dated April 19 shows that the governor delegated duties to Water CEC Rosemary Rop.