Last-minute intervention: Mariga caught in the crossfire of Jubilee wars

Wednesday, August 28th, 2019 00:00 |
McDonald Mariga

Anthony Mwangi and Hillary Mageka

A last-minute intervention by Deputy President William Ruto saved the day for footballer McDonald Mariga’s bid to vie for the Kibra parliamentary seat, after a section of Jubilee Party officials allegedly tried to bar him.

A party official, who was involved in the process, claimed a list forwarded to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) by the party, which included names of four other aspirants, was withdrawn after party secretary general Raphael Tuju disowned it.

The DP was informed about the confusion and took up the matter, directing the National Elections Board to forward the names to beat Monday’s deadline.

By then the list had been flagged down from the party’s official Twitter handle, further raising concern that the ruling party might fail to beat the deadline.

Disown letter

Jubilee election’s board chairman Nick Bore told People Daily that he had indeed forwarded the letter to IEBC.

“The board, upon receiving the names of the interested candidates, forwarded the same to the IEBC. I don’t understand where this conflicting information is coming from,” Bore said on phone.

On Monday night, IEBC wrote on its Twitter handle that a letter from the Jubilee Party had been presented containing names of aspirants but also noted that the commission was aware the party had disowned the letter.

“IEBC received a letter, on Monday August 26, at 5pm, forwarding the names of aspirants of Jubilee Party for the Kibra by-election. However, it has come to the attention of the commission that Jubilee Party has denied authoring the said letter and termed it fake,” read the message.

The commission stated that it had sought clarification on the matter: “Consequently the commission has written to the party forwarding a copy of the letter for the party’s information and further action.” 

Our source said the DP had identified Mariga as the “right” candidate for the Kibra seat which fell vacant following the death of Ken Okoth last month. 

“He first sought to know whether the footballer was a registered voter and luckily Mariga is registered in Starehe constituency,” said the source who cannot be identified as he is not authorised to speak on behalf of the party.

Ruto is said to have contacted the Jubilee Party leader, President Uhuru Kenyatta, about fielding a candidate in Kibra. 

“The party leader gave the nod and Tuju was directed to make the announcement and invite interested candidates to present their names,” said the source.

Efforts to reach Mariga for comment yesterday were unsuccessful as his phone went unanswered. However, his father, Noah Wanyama, seemed to confirm his son’s participation in the November by-election.

Huenda inawezekana atasimama, wacha nimutafute. . . nitawaambia ukweli. (It is likely he could participate in the poll, but let me first find him. I will revert with details).

Mariga’s candidature has since Monday evening caused intrigues within the ruling party, leading to the emergence of two opposing camps, with each side fronting its set of preferred candidates. 

While the DP’s team, which included the election’s board, presented a list of five, the other group led by Tuju was allegedly fronting Doreen Wasike or Morris Peter Kinyanjui.

The by-election will see the ruling party and the opposition ODM party face off in a political contest for the first time since President Uhuru’s symbolic Handshake with Orange party leader Raila Odinga.

On Monday Tuju, said in a statement that following consultations, the Jubilee leadership had resolved to field a candidate in the Kibra by-election.

“We have consulted widely over the matter and resolved that the Handshake will not be affected in any way. There is no ill-will or bad intentions in our decision to field a candidate in Kibra,” Tuju said.

The ruling party did not field candidates for by-elections in Ugenya and Embakasi South constituencies held on April 5 this year, a move Tuju said was in the best interest of unity in the country.

The Orange party will hold its party nominations to pick its candidate on August 31. Although the ODM constitution allows direct nomination, past experience had shown the system as unpopular. 

Coming barely seven months after the party was defeated in the Ugenya and Embakasi South by-elections, Raila is said to have opted for nomination through a popular vote to avoid a fallout that could give advantage to its rivals.

During a rally at Kamukunji grounds in Kibera last Sunday, the ODM leader paraded 24 hopefuls, who will battle it out for the party ticket. 

Those expected to seek the ODM ticket include Benson Musungu (ODM National Youth Co-ordinator), Imran Okoth (late MP Ken Okoth’s brother and PA), Reggae DJ Kriss Darlin, Sigar Agumba, Peter Orero (Dagoretti High School Principal), and Ochieng’ Jera.

Also in the race is Musalia Mudavadi’s Amani National Congress (ANC), which is expected to unveil its candidate today. Former ODM strategist Eliud Owalo, who resigned from ODM recently, citing personal reasons, and decamped to ANC, is expected to be the flag-bearer of Mudavadi’s party. 

It is understood Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula’s Ford Kenya will support the ANC candidate and the two are said to be reaching out to Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka, for support.

On Tuesday, ANC secretary general Barrack Muluka promised to give ODM a run for its money as they will pull all stops to make sure they snatch the seat from them.

“We are going out in full force to claim the Kibra seat.”

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