21 April 2017

Kenya: Big Names At Risk of Losing Seats As Jubilee Holds Polls

Photo: Jeff Angote/The Nation
Deputy President William Ruto (left) and President Uhuru Kenyatta at the launch of Jubilee Party at Safaricom Stadium Kasarani in Nairobi on September 10, 2016.

Two gubernatorial aspirants have quit Jubilee amid rigging claims ahead of high stakes party nominations in Mt Kenya region today.

Murang'a gubernatorial aspirant Moses Mwangi and Isiolo Senator Mohamed Kuti said they had left the party over fears of unfair nominations.

Votng is expected to start from 6am.

Mathira parliamentary aspirant Rigathi Gachagua said he was confident the party would live up to its promise of delivering transparent nominations.

"We do not want voting running into the night, counting and tallying of votes should be done quickly," said Mr Gachagua.

RIGGING CLAIMS

The political battle is particularly intense in Murang'a, Kiambu, Kirinyaga, Nyeri, Tharaka-Nithi, Embu and Meru counties where securing the party ticket almost guarantees one victory in the general election or consign one to political oblivion.

Dr Mwangi defected from Jubilee barely hours to the nominations.

He cited a plot by his opponents -- Governor Mwangi Wa Iria and Kigumo MP Jamleck Kamau -- to rig the nominations.

"In view of the prevailing circumstances where emerging information suggest potential massive rigging... I hereby tender my resignation from being a member and candidate for the Jubilee Party," he said during a press conference.

WAIGURU IN RACE

This means the Murang'a governor primaries will be a two-horse race between Mr Wa Iria and Mr Kamau, who are battling for the 550,000 registered voters in the region.

While Mr Wa Iria has the advantage of incumbency, Mr Kamau has support from Murang'a South and MPs such as Alice Wahome (Kandara).

In Isiolo on Thursday, Senator Kuti said he would announce his political future today.

In Kirinyaga, former Devolution CS Anne Waiguru, Kirinyaga Central MP Gachoki Gitari and incumbent Joseph Ndathi will be battling for Jubilee ticket in the race for governor seat.

Former KRA deputy commissioner Eliud Wanjao will also be fighting for the ticket in the region with 350,000 registered voters.

TOUGH RACE

In Nyeri, it will be a contest between incumbent Samuel Wamathai, a former diplomat, and four other aspirants who will be seeking to make him the shortest-serving governor.

The four are Senator Mutahi Kagwe, economist Wahome Gakuru, industrialists Githinji Cocoriko Kinyanjui and hotelier Patrick Kairu.

In the senate race, it will be the battle of billionaires involving contractors Dan Wamahiu, Ephraim Maina and industrialist Wambugu Kanyi.

Fireworks are expected in Tharaka-Nithi where former assistant minister Petkay Miriti and Chuka/Igambang'ombe MP Muthomi Njuki are locked in a tough race.

NJUKI ACCUSED

Mr Njuki is said to be close to President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto while Mr Miriti's United Patriotic Party of Kenya was one of those that folded to form Jubilee.

On Wednesday night, a group of Chuka Town residents stormed the constituency offices claiming that Mr Njuki and his supporters were marking ballot papers.

The residents also claimed Mr Njuki and Chuka Constituency MP aspirant Patrick Munene were meeting some presiding officers and clerks to plan how to rig the nominations.

Mr Njuki, however, denied the claims.

WAMBORA VS MBARIRE

County Jubilee secretary-general Isaac Mugo appealed for sobriety and asked candidates to accept the results.

In Meru, Senator Kiraitu Murungi has no competitor in the Jubilee governor race, as is Igembe South MP Mithika Linturi, who is vying for the senate seat.

There will be, however, a cut-throat battle between Ms Florence Kajuju and Ms Kawira Mwangaza for the Woman Rep post.

The stakes are high in Embu County where Governor Martin Wambora and Runyenjes MP Cecily Mbarire are seeking Jubilee ticket for governor seat.

Reported by Ken Kimanthi, George Munene, Joseph Wangui and Grace Gitau

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