The decision by Jubilee to field a candidate in the Kibra parliamentary by-election continues to generate heat in the party after it emerged that President Uhuru Kenyatta was not keen on the campaigns in order to guard the peace deal.
Multiple sources within Jubilee Party pointed an accusing finger at Deputy President William Ruto over the push to field a candidate in the race “in a bid to scuttle the handshake (political pact) between the President and ODM leader Raila Odinga”.
The sources revealed that the DP had reached out to the President to preside over the official issuance of the party certificate to its candidate — footballer McDonald Mariga — at Jubilee headquarters in Pangani on Monday in vain, before presenting his nomination papers to the electoral agency today.
Dr Ruto was then expected at the party headquarters to present the certificate himself but, by the time of going to press, he hadn't turned up.
Party secretary-general Raphael Tuju confirmed that they were to issue the nomination certificate to Mr Mariga on Monday but the event was postponed at the last minute “due to unforeseen circumstances”.
He said the certificate is expected to be issued to their candidate Tuesday. “I have no communication from the President whether he will present the certificate or campaign for our candidate, but we have been in touch with the Deputy,” Mr Tuju said.
On Monday, State House spokesperson Kanze Dena-Mararo remained guarded on whether the President, by virtue of being the party leader, will take part in the by-election campaigns.
Ms Dena only responded by stating “no comment”. But MPs allied to the Kieleweke group, a Jubilee wing allied to the President, did not mince their words, accusing the DP of “imposing a candidate on the electorate”.
Nominated MP Maina Kamanda and his Cherangany counterpart Joshua Kutuny said there is a deliberate attempt to undermine the relationship between the President and Mr Odinga by fielding a candidate to face off with ODM in the mini polls.
“The Deputy President is not happy with the peaceful environment that the handshake has brought to this country. He does not care about Nairobi people and how they have fought one another for a long time, because he does not have his people in Nairobi. Our DP doesn’t care,” Mr Kamanda said.
BACK PEACE PACT
He went on: “He (Ruto) knows he cannot win that seat but wants to bring a wedge between the President and Raila.”
Mr Kutuny said Dr Ruto’s team forced a candidate on the people and hatched a plot to destroy the handshake through acrimonious campaigns in Kibra.
“In the spirit of the handshake, I didn’t expect the party to engage in a competitive political process in Kibra. There is a deliberate move to undermine the good relationship between the President and Mr Odinga,” said Mr Kutuny.
He advised the President and Mr Odinga to ignore the manoeuvres.
On Sunday in Malindi, the Head of State spoke passionately about the handshake and rallied Kenyans to support it.
“We must support the handshake because it is aimed at uniting Kenyans. We want one people with one united tribe called Kenya. Never again should Kenyans shed blood because of politics,” the President said.
But while speaking at Upper Baricho Primary School in Kirinyaga County during a funds drive, Dr Ruto accused Mr Odinga of being behind the push for constitutional amendments and plunging the country into early political campaigns.
Dr Ruto said that save for Mr Odinga, Kenyans had no problem with the current Constitution.
"It is only this man of vitendawili (parables) who wants laws to be changed, and that is why he has come up with Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) which is tiring Kenyans by asking them questions which can't help them solve their problems," said Dr Ruto in reference to Mr Odinga.
The BBI is an initiative between the President and Mr Odinga borne out of the March 9, 2018 peace deal.
Jubilee's fielding of a candidate in Kibra remains curious since last year it did not field a candidate in the Migori senatorial by-election, which was won by ODM’s Ochillo Ayacko.
In April this year, Jubilee Party withdrew from both Ugenya and Embakasi South by-elections held on April 5; while ODM also withdrew from the Wajir West by-election held on April 25.
Jubilee let ODM field Chris Karan in Ugenya and Irshad Sumra in Embakasi South in the April 5 by-election.
The duo was vanquished by Movement for Democracy and Growth (MDG) candidate Dave Ochieng’ and Wiper Democratic Movement's Julius Mawathe.
In Wajir West however, Jubilee’s Ahmed Kolosh won.
Meanwhile, five candidates were on Monday cleared to vie in the Kibra by-election slated for November 11.
At the same time, independent candidates and those from parties deemed to be minor vowed to give the big parties a run for their money.
The contenders’ clearing process held at the Nairobi County Council Hall on Ngong Road saw Eliud Owalo of Amani National Congress (ANC), Ford Kenya’s Khamisi Butichi, Narc Kenya’s Elijah Abasa, independent candidate Fridah Kerubo Kenga’ra and Titus Katiwa of the Republican Liberty Party cleared to run.
Ukweli Party’s Editar Ochieng’, United Green Movement’s (UGM) Hamida Malassen and Felix Anditi, Peter Wanzala and Okoth Abraham, who are independent candidates, had their approvals deferred because they did not have some of the documentation required by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
Mr Owalo, who was accompanied by ANC Secretary-General Barrack Muluka, exuded confidence of winning.
“I am ready for the by-elections. I assure Kibra residents that if they elect me I will be their defender and guardian,” he said.
And further pledged to conduct peaceful, issue-based campaigns.
Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang'ula, who accompanied his candidate, Mr Butichi, said they are going into the elections looking to secure the seat and continue with the work that the late Ken Okoth had begun.
Mr Butichi said that a win for him will be like a return home as he was brought up in Kibra.
He said he would cater to the needs of Kibra people and not give false promises. The independent candidates said they have the support of the grassroots.
Mr Eric Ogada, the director of grassroots democracy at UGM, said their candidate, Ms Malassen, having been born and bred in Kibra, resonates well with the people.
“She is not worried about the other aspirants as the ground is ripe for her. She ran the race for the same seat before on a Jubilee Party ticket,” said Ogada.
The seat, which fell vacant after the death of Okoth, has attracted up to 23 contestants. The second batch of aspirants will be assessed today. ODM’s Imran Okoth is also expected to present his nomination papers to the IEBC.
Additional reporting by Brian Okinda