Murkomen backs assembly in clash with Tolgos

County chief wanted assembly allocation slashed to cater for budget deficit, but senator says he has to respect budget law

In Summary

• Tolgos angered by gazettement of a disputed finance bill 

• Governor maintains the assembly will have to cede part of its budget

Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Tolgos at a church function
Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Tolgos at a church function

The budget crisis in Elgeyo Marakwet has fuelled the rivalry between Governor Alex Tolgos and Senator Kipchumba Murkomen.

The latest row comes after the county assembly opposed proposals to slash part of its Sh566 million allocation to finance the Sh200 million budget deficit.

On Friday, the assembly gazetted the County Appropriation Bill, 2019, without the approval of the governor. Tolgos had twice refused to sign it, sparking a bitter clash with speaker Kiplagat Sabulei.

Murkomen waded into the war and apparently supported the MCAs. In a statement, he said the governor does not have a legal choice over a budget law that has been gazetted.

“Once the law is passed, it’s passed. He can go to court to challenge the law but he can’t refuse to sign relevant warrants because that amounts to gross violation of the Constitution and you know what that means," Murkomen said.

According to Tolgos, however, Sabulei seeks to undermine and sabotage his authority. He said the gazettement was illegal and achieved through the backdoor.

He maintained that the assembly will have to cede part of its budget to allow his administration to bridge budget shortfalls.

"The county assembly should not to divert attention from our request to allow a reduction in their budget as we have done in the executive to enable us to deliver services to the people of Elgeyo Marakwet," he said.

"That bill cannot be effected without my signature as the elected governor. The speaker is elected by MCAs and should keep off from interfering with my work."

For their part, Sabulei and deputy speaker Christopher Chemosong (Arror MCA) have accused Tolgos of mismanaging the county and causing the financial deficits through irregular appointments of his relatives to senior positions.

The law requires that a bill from the assembly rejected twice by the governor automatically becomes a county law if MCAs approve it a third time and gazette it even without the governor’s signature. But Tolgos says he will not allow the assembly to run roughshod over county affairs. 

"As long as there is a governor in Elgeyo Marakwet,  the speaker has no authority whatsoever to allocate himself responsibilities beyond his mandate," he said at Kaptarakwa.

Tolgos said he will not accept to be intimidated by anyone as he discharges his duties.

"As long as I am the governor, no amount of arm-twisting employed by certain characters will succeed in undermining my administration. It is wrong for a speaker to engage in unnecessary short-cut gimmicks," he said. 

He said the speaker must not be allowed to "wallow in allowances and other financial benefits", yet he was not elected by the people and has never cared about the welfare of residents.

(Edited by F'Orieny)