Acid test for ‘handshake’ as Uhuru’s Jubilee battles ODM of Raila in Kibra

Jubilee Kibra Nominee McDonald Mariga addressing the media after he was declared Kibra Aspirant at Jubilee Headquarters, Nairobi. [Boniface Okendo/Standard]

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga’s parties are battling internal conflicts as they prepare for a face-off in the Kibra parliamentary by-election.

Jubilee Party has nominated footballer McDonald Mariga, whose candidature got a boost yesterday after 10 aspirants, who had disputed his nomination, backed him following a meeting convened by former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale, a close Ruto ally.

But Mr Mariga will have to contend with opposition from within because a wing of Jubilee that includes MPs Maina Kamanda, Moses Kuria and Joshua Kutuny, has rejected his boardroom nomination. Mr Kamanda has, in particular, vowed to campaign for the ODM candidate.

Kamanda claims Ruto imposed the candidate on the party to set up a clash with Raila and vowed he would not allow the DP to ruin the handshake between the two leaders.

“The candidate Jubilee Party picked has been imposed on the party by Ruto. He is Ruto’s candidate and not Jubilee’s. I am for a candidate who will be announced by ODM,” Kamanda claimed.

Mariga has to also ward off reports that he may not be properly nominated to contest amid claims he is not in the voters’ register.

Accordingto the reports, Mariga applied to be registered as a voter on August 26 at Kariokor in Starehe Constituency.

This was to qualify him for participation in the election, but his fate now lies with the electoral agency that has to decide following reports its register has not been updated since the 2017 General Election.

“What he has is an application to be registered as a voter, but the name has not been updated in the register being used for elections. It’s a situation that the commission has to make by Monday,” a source at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) said.

The electoral commission is unable to update its register after Parliament banned French firm IDEMIA Securities Limited, formerly OT Morpho, from doing business in Kenya for at least 10 years.

Thefirm supplied the system IEBC is using currently and with the ban, the commission cannot request them to supply in software and thus relies on the register of 2017.

He did not pick calls or respond to text messages sent to his phone.  Raila’s ODM is also working to forestall a fall-out after Saturday’s do-or-die party primaries. Raila is fighting the perception that he has already picked a candidate from the 10 seeking the party’s ticket.

On Wednesday evening, the ODM leader held a meeting to assure the aspirants that neither he nor the party leadership had a preferred candidate.

“We are hearing rumours that I have already chosen someone. Those are all gossips that should be discarded. You are my sons and I do not love one more than the other, hence we dismiss the gossips,” Raila told them.

His assurance came on the backdrop of reports that the party was prevailing upon some of the aspirants to withdraw and throw their weight behind one of the candidates.

“I do not support any of them for they are all part of the party. The party will hold a free and fair election this Saturday,” Raila said.

The party’s National Elections Board (NEB), led by Judith Pareno, also met aspirants and announced that 543 election officials would man the exercise in all the 180 polling stations. The officers include a returning officer, two deputies, a presiding officer for each station, and two clerks per polling centre.

And to address fears of a repeat of the men in black fiasco, where goons disrupted party elections in Kasarani in 2014, ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna disclosed Thursday that they had made adequate security arrangements for the mini polls.

“Police will be deployed in each of the 180 polling stations in 24 centres across Kibra,” Mr Sifuna explained.

The officers will escort the ballot materials to and from the polling centres and also ensure no one causes chaos during the primaries.

Sifuna said one of the aspirants, Lumumba Owade, had pulled out. Those vying for the Orange party ticket are Awino Christone Odhiambo, Orero Peter Ochieng’, Sine Tony Ogola Sira, Ojijo Reuben William Ayako, Oguwa Stephen Okello, Okoth Bernard Otieno, Obayi Obaricks Eric Ochieng’, Owino Brian Shem, Millar John Otieno and Musungu Benson.

The ODM leader is keen to stem any fallout that is likely to emanate from the primaries in the wake of Ruto’s planned Sunday campaigns in Kibra.

“When do you want me to come? When are you available? Sunday? Then they will arrange for me to come on Sunday so that we can talk,” Ruto told a roadside rally on his way from Moi Girls High School on Tuesday.

Also in the race for the seat left vacant after the death of ODM’s Okoth is Musalia Mudavadi’s ANC, which has settled on management consultant Eliud Owalo, who once worked with Raila but parted ways soon after the last elections.


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