Two gubernatorial aspirants have quit Jubilee amid rigging claims ahead of high-stakes party nominations in the 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 at 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.
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 consigns 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 suggests 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 while 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 minister Anne Waiguru, Kirinyaga Central MP Gachoki Gitari and incumbent Governor Joseph Ndathi will be battling for the Jubilee ticket in the race for the county's top seat.
Former KRA deputy commissioner Eliud Wanjao will also be fighting for the ticket in the region with 350,000 registered voters.
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, industrialist Githinji Cocoriko Kinyanjui and hotelier Patrick Kairu.
In the senate race, it will be the battle of billionaires involving contractors Dan Wamahiu and 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.
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 there.
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 urged candidates to accept the results.
In Meru, Senator Kiraitu Murungi has no competitor in the Jubilee governor's race, as is Igembe South MP Mithika Linturi, who is vying for the Senate seat.
There will, however, be a cut-throat battle between Florence Kajuju and Kawira Mwangaza for the woman rep seat.
The stakes are high in Embu County, where Governor Martin Wambora and Runyenjes MP Cecily Mbarire are seeking the Jubilee ticket for the governor's seat.
Reported by Ken Kimanthi, George Munene, Joseph Wangui and Grace Gitau