Friday, December 19, 2008

Women fail to clinch top seats in PNU national polls

President Mwai Kibaki (right) confers with Internal Security Minister Professor George Saitoti shortly after he was endorsed as the PNU Party leader at the Kasarani Sports Center Nairobi on Friday. The highest position captured by a woman was that of National Women’s Chairperson that went to Public Health Minister Beth Mugo. Photo/PETERSON GITHAIGA  

By OLIVER MATHENGE

Women lost out again on Friday as another major party held its national elections.

Coming just a day after they were marginalised in the ODM polls held at Bomas of Kenya, those who hoped women will fare better in the PNU elections were disappointed.

Gender Minister Esther Murugi failed to clinch a vice-chairperson’s position as expected. Instead Juja MP George Thuo proposed former Kitutu Chache MP Jimmy Angwenyi as the Vice Chair in charge of research and strategy.

Discontent was evident among Central province delegates who had expected the Nyeri town MP to win the seat. Ms Murugi then declined to take up the position of Women Affairs (Strategy) after she was proposed by Mr Matere Keriri.

Regional balance

“Mr Returning Officer I decline to take that position because when I had a proposer for the position of national vice-chairperson, the returning officer refused to allow it,” Ms Murugi said.

The highest position captured by a woman was that of National Women’s Chairperson that went to Public Health Minister Beth Mugo.

Other women who got positions at the national delegates conference held at the Kasarani gymnasium were Betty Tett, Jane Mwikali, Cecily Mbarire, Maishomo Leshomo, Prisca Mwita and Agnes Toya.

Women through Anna Chebet got only one position in the provincial representation. The elections also failed in regional balance with Western and Nyanza provinces getting less than five positions each. All Nairobi PNU MPs including activists Betty Tett and Stanley Livondo secured positions in the party structure.

Stimulate development

Speaking after the elections, President Kibaki who was named Party Leader called for unity in the country and challenged Kenyans to play their role in building the country.

The president was addressing the over 4,000 delegates at Kasarani who had turned up to elect their officials as the party rushes to comply with the December 31 Political Parties Act deadline.

He said PNU would continue to collaborate with other political parties for the sake of developing the country.

And, newly elected PNU Chairman Prof George Saitoti said the party would work with its coalition partner ODM to improve the lives of Kenyans and stimulate development in the country.

The Internal security minister also said that PNU was committed to achieving the goals of the grand coalition government.

Secretary General Kiraitu Murungi termed the party as a sleeping giant that has finally woken up. The Energy minister added that the party's national delegates conference was a turning point for politics in the country.

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