Nominated MP Maina Kamanda has endorsed and pledged his full support for rival Orange Democratic Movement candidate Imran Okoth a day after President Kenyatta officially endorsed the ruling party’s flagbearer McDonald Mariga.
The Jubilee MP made the announcement on Thursday after meeting ODM leader Raila Odinga at Capitol Hill in Nairobi.
“Kibra is the stronghold of ODM. We have field a candidate as Jubilee, the candidate was put there by Jubilee, but as a person, I will be with the [candidate] that has been nominated by ODM,” Mr Kamanda said.
He said his support for Imran, brother of the late Kibra MP Ken Okoth, is in the spirit of the handshake between Mr Odinga and Mr Kenyatta after the 2017 election.
“I call him ‘handshake candidate’ and there are so many other members of parliament who want to come and support him, just for one reason: That we have enjoyed peace in our country and we do not want that peace to be thrown out by a few people who do not want to see that we have achieved so much,” Mr Kamanda told journalists.
Mr Kamanda, a harsh critic of Deputy President William Ruto, said he would campaign for Mr Okoth.
“The handshake brought peace in this city…The tension in the city eased and that is what has brought me here,” he said.
He also revealed that the late Ken Okoth was his friend and had fostered good relations with his colleagues, hence the support for the ODM candidate from members of rival parties.
Mr Kamanda’s move is a pointer to the widening rift with the Jubilee Party, which has witnessed internal wrangles sparked by Mr Ruto’s bid to succeed Mr Kenyatta in 2022.
Since his unveiling, Mr Mariga, the Jubilee candidate, had been perceived as a Ruto project until Mr Kenyatta received and endorsed him for the race on Wednesday at State House Nairobi.
On Building Bridges Initiative, Mr Kamanda, a leader of anti-Ruto Jubilee faction called Kieleweke, said that debate should be postponed until the report is made public.
On his part, Mr Odinga asked Kibra candidate to maintain peace as they hunt for votes.
“We would like to see the campaign in Kibra constituency done in a very peaceful and organised way,” he said.
“There will be no kind of violence in this campaign. We want to show Kenya and the world that Kenya democracy is maturing.”