23 February 2008

Kenya: Final List of Councillors Released

Nairobi — Mayoral elections were thrown into a spin as names of key contestants were missing from a gazette notice.

The names of nominated councillors were handed over to the Local Government without alterations, Electoral Commission of Kenya chairman, Mr Samuel Kivuitu, confirmed on Friday night.

There has been heightened activity in Mombasa, Nairobi, Kisumu, Eldoret, Nakuru and other major councils - ahead of the elections on Monday. At least 2,402 elected and 759 nominated councillors are expected to take part.

The name of Former Adopt-A-Light Managing Director, Miss Esther Passaris, ODM choice for Nairobi mayor, was missing in the list published on Friday. She spent the day campaigning among civic leaders opposed to Baba Dogo ward councillor, Mr Godrey Majiwa.

Councillors supporting Passaris left a meeting at a Nairobi hotel on Friday worried, as it emerged that PNU and affiliate partners are now keen to front one of their own after realising ODM would go to the mayoral election divided.

However, as Majiwa and his group basked in the sun and sand along the beaches of Mombasa, Passaris was busy meeting Nairobi women leaders and councillors to consolidate their support.

It was said she sought views of women leaders on areas they would want addressed should she win the seat.

"Going by the numbers we have, if we are united, we will win. We are going for a retreat until Monday morning. We have 30 councillors intact. We only need nine more to be on the safe side," said a councillor in Passaris' camp.

Nairobi City Council, which has 25 nominees, had 24 in the list released on Friday by Local Government Minister, Mr Uhuru Kenyatta.

Over 700 nominated councillors have now been cleared to participate in the elections.

Passaris was tipped to be the second woman Nairobi mayor after Ms Margaret Kenyatta. Now her counterpart in ODM, Majiwa, is tipped to win.

Earlier, the name of a brokerage investor emerged strongly as the financier of the Mombasa retreat, but the businessman's name was also missing from the list of nominated councillors.

Contacted about why the list for Nairobi had a name missing, ECK Deputy Secretary, Mr Chege Suleiman referred The Saturday Standard to Uhuru. "Let him show you the exact list that we submitted to him," he said.

In a related development, two names proposed by the Party of National Unity (PNU) were missing from the list published in Kenya Gazette amid allegations of underhand dealings.

The first casualty was Mr Wilfred Apencha, the PNU treasurer, who immediately complained to the minister.

The other nominee whose name was missing was Ms Recho Wanjiku Kamwaro.

The most controversial inclusion in the list was the name of Mr Lee Muchiri, who is an ally of former Sports minister Mr Maina Kamanda.

Muchiri contested the Kasarani Parliamentary seat after he was handed the PNU ticket in an acrimonious manner, but lost to Ms Elizabeth Ongoro of ODM.

Camping in Mombasa

Meanwhile, 16 Nairobi councillors have been camping in a two star hotel in Mombasa.

The councillors, allied to Majiwa, were booked at Milele Beach Hotel on Wednesday.

A check by The Saturday Standard on Thursday confirmed the councillors were in Mombasa. Those afraid of the salty water took a leisurely walk along the beach, while some took camel rides.

Some of the councillors were later spotted at the famous Pirates Beach Club enjoying their drinks.

However, upon spotting a group of cameramen, the councillors, retreated back to their rooms.

In Mombasa, the race for Town Hall took an interesting twist when manoeuvres by businessmen and ODM politicians saw the inclusion of Mr Ali Abukar Mondhar in the final list of nominated councillors.

The list released on Friday confirmed that the mayoral race in Mombasa would be between businessman and prominent golfer, Mr Tawfiq Salim Balala and Mondhar, a former Kanu nominated councillor.

And civic leaders from Olkejuado County council flew to Dar es Salaam to plan for the polls. Speaking to The Saturday Standard from their hideout, Mr George ole Sunkuyia said they were working on a team that would unite the people.

And the seven councillors from Nyatike Constituency who fled to Tanzania at the height of violence have returned through Isebania, Kopanga and Muhuru border crossings.

The PNU leaders quickly went into secret locations after a brief appearance in Migori town.

They include Zakayo Odero Adem (Kanyasa Ward), Albert Onuko (Nyakwere), Zakawa Dickens (Kanyarwanda), Owino Okoth (Macalder), Okuno Joseph (Got Kachola), Osodo Robert Oluoch (Muhuru East Ward) and Mrs Omoro Atieno, Kaler ward.

ODM said last night it would issue a comprehensive statement on the list of nominated civic leaders today.

Meanwhile leaders in Nandi District said civic leaders should be given a free hand to pick mayors and chairmen.

-Reports by Brian Adero, Maseme Machuka Khadija Yusuf, Issac Ongiri, Titus Too, and Ayub Savula, Joseph Murimi and Abiya Ochola

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