Friday, June 8, 2012

Balala finally names party for Senate race

Mvita MP Najib Balala and Internal Security assistant minister Simeon Lesirma follow proceedings during the opening of the National Conference and County Forums on Peaceful Elections at the Mombasa Continental Resort on June 8, 2012. Photo/GIDEON MAUNDU

Mvita MP Najib Balala and Internal Security assistant minister Simeon Lesirma follow proceedings during the opening of the National Conference and County Forums on Peaceful Elections at the Mombasa Continental Resort on June 8, 2012. Photo/GIDEON MAUNDU 

By BOZO JENJE bjenje@ke.nationmedia.com

Mvita MP Najib Balala on Friday unveiled the party he will use to vie for the Mombasa senate seat in the next General Election.

In a move that he hopes will add wind to his political sails, Mr Balala revealed Unity Party of Kenya as his vehicle in the race for the seat that will pit him against ODM’s Environment assistant minister Ramadhan Kajembe and former Kenya National Commission on Human Rights Commissioner Omar Hassan.

The party will be formally launched next week.

Mr Balala, who was expected to reveal his party at a press conference, instead sent his personal assistant Ben Furaha to make the announcement as the former minister was held up in a meeting.

The party colour is blue, denoting the sky, and has an egg as its symbol.

UPK officials are, however, consulting the Registrar of Parties office for a possible re-evaluation of the symbol.

“The officials are still not happy with the egg symbol and they expect to change it once the registrar accepts the request,” Mr Furaha said.

He said the party stood for devolution, democracy, equity and justice, adding that it would embrace a national outlook by targeting all communities in the country without discrimination.

“Because of the unity aspect of the party, UPK will consolidate like-minded leaders and front for a formidable presidential aspirant within and out of party,” he said.

Mr Furaha said consultations were ongoing to identify the party’s flag bearer in the next elections.

“UPK does not want to saturate the country with presidential aspirants but take it from me that we are still consulting,” he told journalists.

Former Tharaka Nithi MP Petkay Miriti is the party chairman while Mr Balala remains one of the founders.

Mr Furaha said the party would have its headquarters in Nairobi but a strong base in Coast and North Eastern provinces.

In an earlier interview with the Nation, Mr Balala pledged that party would not discriminate on the basis of gender, race and religion.

“All seats will be contested fairly, no bribery and hooliganism will be allowed during party nominations. No seats will be reserved for particular politicians,” he said.

He went on: “We will run the party as an institution and not individual property.”

Mr Balala said that having served as a minister, he was experienced and understood well Kenyan politics.

Political intrigues

“I have never been an opportunist, I have suffered from political intrigues in ODM and I emerged a shrewd politician,” he said.

On his strategies to win voters, the former Tourism minister explained that the party would be propelled by a new breed of politicians, who have not looted public coffers.

At the same time, Mr Balala said his party would launch civic education to change the proscribed Mombasa Republican Council’s stand.

“The MRC leadership and members need to be told the benefit of voting and  the cost implication of their action that will deny the region  representation and power,” he said. 

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