Community elders want the seven candidates vying for gubernatorial seat in Trans Nzoia County to publicly commit themselves toward formation of an all-inclusive government after the August 9 General Election.
The elders, representing members of communities living in the County, made the demand during a peaceful elections sensitization forum held at National Museum Western Region Headquarters in Kitale town on Monday.
Trans Nzoia County Commissioner (CC) Mr. Samson Ojwang presided over the one-day meeting organized by the County Peace Committee.
Majority of the elders who spoke at the forum identified economic exclusivity and unfair distribution of County resources as one of the reasons behind what was described as growing tribal disquiet in the largely cosmopolitan County.
Elders from minority communities including the Sengwer, Turkana, Marakwet, Somali and Asian felt sidelined by the current government headed by Governor Patrick Khaemba in terms of allocation of county resources and job opportunities.
“Total exclusion of marginal communities in accessing and benefiting from County government opportunities is one of the main reasons causing voter apathy by voters in marginalized communities,” said David Esokwom, chairman Sengwer community elders.
With about 20 days to the ballot, the community elders vowed to push for what was christened as guided democracy, a tool they believe would enable the next County boss to adequately address the issue of power sharing and county resources allocation.
“Trans Nzoia County is the actual face of Kenya. Thus the need to ensure members from all the 43 tribes fully participate in the socio-economic affairs and development of the county,” remarked an elder.
The team of elders demanded to have a forum with the gubernatorial candidates ahead of the upcoming national polls.
“We intend to use the forum as a platform for sharing concerns by our communities with the gubernatorial candidates. The main objective is to ensure whoever would emerge victorious will form an inclusive county administration,” Dickson Rotich chairman Turkana community elder.
The elders used the occasion and cautioned candidates for all elective seats to restrain from engaging in election malpractices to enable the electorate to send to power leaders with high sense of integrity.
They accused a section of politicians running for national seats of using abusive and incitement language and in particular listing innocent youths to play dirty politics on their behalf.
They made reference to a recent incident in which one of the Presidential candidates while addressing supporters at Kitalale area made unsavory remarks aimed at Defence Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa.
“If those seeking the highest seat are invective in their speeches what will prevent their counterparts seeking the lowest seats,” posed an irked elder who urged politicians to be guided by their blueprints as they seek power.
Speaking to the elders, CC Ojwang expressed the government’s gratitude over the role played by community elders in promotion of peace for the country’s sustainable economic growth and development.
“The country has experienced several dark historical moments related to General Elections in the past. The role played by elders in restoring peace in such trying moments cannot be undervalued. Hence, the reason for this crucial meeting today,” explained Ojwang.
Ojwang made a special appeal to the elders, asking them to assist election stakeholders, especially the Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) conduct a peaceful and credible election on August 9.
“As community elders you have immense powers capable of ensuring candidates for elective seats and their supporters shy away from election offenses,” he observed.
The County administrator appreciated the elders for providing leaders at various levels in the County.
He cited the elders’ critical roles in handling family issues in their various communities but at the same time urged them to expand the roles.
“For instance, we want you elders to take exceptional interest and help the government ensure all our children enroll for basic education and fight the illicit brew and drug substances among the youth,” remarked Ojwang.
According to IEBC official records, seven candidates are battling for the Trans Nzoia gubernatorial seat.
These are former Rift Valley Regional Commissioner George Natembeya on Democratic Alliance Party of Kenya (DAP-K), Kiminini legislator Chrisantus Wamalwa (Ford Kenya), Wilfred Muraya (Usawa kwa Wote), Wycliffe Eshiwani (Independent), Timothy Korir (Independent), Jim Nduruchi (Independent) and Prof. Ben Wanjala (independent).