Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen’s outburst during the launch of the Building Bridges Initiative report at the Bomas of Kenya on Wednesday marks the latest incident where the Elgeyo-Marakwet Senator has lost his cool in public.
When he rose to speak, the senator faulted the manner in which the occasion’s master of ceremonies, the National Assembly Minority Leader and Suba East MP Junet Mohamed, was running the programme.
Most of the speakers at the function were those who supported the BBI, and were drawn mostly from the former Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s ODM party, and from the “Kieleweke” wing of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party.
Besides Senator Murkomen, National Assembly Majority Leader Adan Duale was the only MP allied to the “Tangatanga” wing of the Jubilee Party who spoke during the event.
Mr Murkomen was angered by Mr Mohamed’s comments over the perceived divisions in the ruling Jubilee Party.
“The problems facing Jubilee Party should be discussed aside. We’re not part of it,” said Mr Mohamed.
An amused President Kenyatta was seen laughing uncontrollably to Mr Mohamed’s remarks while his deputy, who was seated next to him, wore a blank face.
“Even the way Junet you’re running the programme, we have to make it an honest discussion,” said the senator, eliciting boos from a section of the crowd.
“It would be a lie for me to leave this stage without saying that this programme has been skewed to leave out people of a different opinion. We must say it as it is!” said Mr Murkomen amidst shouts of ‘No’ from the crowd.
Undeterred, the senator went on and on amidst jeers by a section of the attendees, a situation that forced the BBI task force chairman, Senator Yusuf Haji, to calm them down.
As he left the stage after concluding his remarks, the angry senator cursed at his hecklers in Kiswahili with the words, “Kwendeni huko!” (Go away!)
Since being elected in 2013 to represent Elgeyo-Marakwet in the Senate, Mr Murkomen – a lawyer by profession – was a staunch supporter of the Jubilee administration during its first term.
But during the second term, in which Jubilee Party has been wrecked by divisions pitting President Kenyatta against DP Ruto, the senator has transformed into a moderate critic of the same government he serves in and an even firmer supporter of the DP.
When the Arror and Kimwarer dams scandal came to light, he and other Kalenjin leaders were in the frontline supporting the projects, saying there was no wrongdoing either by the Italian contractor CMC di Ravenna or the Treasury officials who paid out the monies for the projects.
And when President Kenyatta, on the advice of a technical team formed to assess the viability of the dam projects, cancelled the Kimwarer dam project as being unviable, Mr Murkomen hit out, intimating that the Head of State had been misled by the technical team.
“Elgeyo Marakwet has been denied its rightful share of national projects in deliberate act of discrimination. They would rather default and pay contractors billions of money for breach of contract than to see our people benefit,” he said in a tweet in September.
He drew condemnation from some of his colleagues in Parliament, among them Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria, after he faulted the composition of the technical team, linking their ethnic backgrounds to the decision to cancel the Sh22 billion dam project over several cited irregularities.
“I urge the President to constitute a transparent team that is national in character to look at all projects in Kenya and which will not ethnically profile some regions for discrimination.”
And when his personal assistant Benson Kiptire was abducted and killed by unknown people in June, he pointed fingers at the police, claiming Kiptire’s death was an assassination aimed at silencing him.
“Benson is an indictment of the government I serve and for which I campaigned [for]. If another government was in power, Benson would not be in that casket. It’s painful but it’s true,” Murkomen said.
He added: “My message to President Kenyatta and I’m very clear in my mind, security will not be managed in the country through assassination and extrajudicial killings, it won’t solve any problem.”
He has also been a loud opponent of the Mau evictions.