Date set for Ugenya, Embakasi South by-elections

Friday January 11 2019

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Chairman Wafula Chebukati. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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The by-elections for Embakasi South and Ugenya constituencies will be held on April 5 following the announcement by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Wafula Chebukati.

The notice, published in the Gazette on Friday, also wants public officers intending to contest in the by-elections to resign from office within seven days following the declaration of the vacancies on January 7 by National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi.

Consequently, the commission has set aside February 4 and 5, as dates when parties will conduct their nomination exercise and appointed its returning and deputy returning officers for the by- elections.

On December 21, 2018, the Supreme Court nullified the victories of MPs Christopher Karan (Ugenya) and Julius Mawathe (Embakasi South) on grounds that they were not validly elected.

Former Ugenya MP David Ochieng’ challenged the victory of Mr Karan while former Embakasi South MP Irshad Sumra petitioned against Mr Mawathe’s election.

Earlier in the week, it had emerged that Mr Chebukati and Commissioners Boya Molu and Abdi Guliye, who met on Monday at IEBC's headquarters in Anniversary Towers to set the dates for the by-elections after receiving notifications from National Assembly speaker Justin Muturi, had disagreed on the date.

“The commissioners agreed to hold subsequent deliberations before announcing the date,” a source at the IEBC told Nation in confidence.

The official announcement by Mr Chebukati sets the stage for a tough battle for the two seats.

In Ugenya, Orange Democratic Movement Party (ODM), which is the most popular party in Nyanza region, has indicated that it will stick with Mr Karan and avoid a rigorous party nomination process.

ODM's move will be a blow to Mr Daniel Juma, who is eyeing the party's ticket.

''We will follow the precedent set by the Supreme Court, which said that in a by-election there is no need for holding fresh party nominations," Mr Sifuna said

The ODM's candidate will fight it out with Mr Ochieng of Movement for Democracy and Growth Party (MDGP). In the run up to 2017 election, Mr Ochieng, who was elected on ODM ticket in 2013, fell out with the Orange party when he lost in the nominations before he decamped to MDGP.

In Embakasi South, a tough battle is likely to be replayed between Mr Sumra of ODM and Mr Mawathe of Jubilee. The two have already hit the ground running.

However, it remains to be seen whether party affiliation will play a role in determining the outcome of the by-election in light of the political truce, handshake, between president Uhuru Kenyatta(Jubilee) and opposition chief Raila Odinga (ODM).