Groups clash as poll aspirants hand in papers

Thursday January 20 2011

Narc-Kenya leader Martha Karua (centre) accompanies the party’s candidate for the Kirinyaga Central by-election Daniel Karaba after he presented his nomination papers to electoral commission officials in Kerugoya on January 20, 2011. Photo/ JOSEPH KANYI

Narc-Kenya leader Martha Karua (centre) accompanies the party’s candidate for the Kirinyaga Central by-election Daniel Karaba after he presented his nomination papers to electoral commission officials in Kerugoya on January 20, 2011. Photo/ JOSEPH KANYI  

By PATRICK NZIOKA [email protected] AND GEORGE MUNENE [email protected]

Tempers flared in Kirinyaga Central between supporters of candidates for the coming by-election.

Supporters of the Party of National Unity and those of Narc-Kenya escorting their candidates to present their nomination papers shoved and pushed to be first in the queue.

Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Cabinet ministers Kiraitu Murungi and Njeru Githae were not spared as the two groups paved the way for their candidate to reach electoral commission officials.

But the police and three Interim Independent Electoral Commission members appealed for calm and the PNU team escorting their candidate Joseph Gachoki Gitari agreed to have the Narc-Kenya candidate Daniel Karaba cleared first.

The two candidates as well as the DP man Henry Mwaniki were cleared by returning officer Terry Mwai for the February 16 duel.

Narc-Kenya leader Martha Karua arrived late and was not allowed in the hall since her candidate had been cleared.

The by-election follows the nullification of the election of Mr John Ngata as the MP following a petition by Mr Karaba.

The High Court sitting in Nyeri declined to nullify Mr Ngata’s win even after a recount had established he had lost to Mr Karaba by one vote. (Read: Kenya MP loses seat in poll petition)

The Court of Appeal eventually set aside the win, paving the way for the by-election. The by-election will provide fodder for a battle for supremacy between Mr Kenyatta and Ms Karua.

Ms Karua, who comes from the area, has indicated she will be vying for the presidency, while Mr Kenyatta will be keen to demonstrate that his support in the area is still intact, especially since his candidate in Juja, Mr George Thuo, suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of Mr William Kabogo, supported by Ms Karua, in a by-election a few months ago.

At a PNU rally at the local stadium, Mr Kenyatta, speaking in Kikuyu, said he held no grudge against Ms Karua. He said she should rejoin the PNU coalition and seek to be nominated for the top seat instead of going it alone.

Mr Karaba told the press he was being fought by PNU while Mr Karaitu, who is the PNU secretary-general expressed confidence that Mr Gitari would sail through.

The Karua group went round the area on a meet the people tour. At the stadium, Security minister George Saitoti asked the crowd who should take over from President Kibaki, and the crowd said: “Uhuru.”

Mr Kenyatta declared he had nothing to fear over the International Criminal Court as it was his people who suffered due to the post-election violence.