Raila secures Kibra bedroom from DP Ruto

Friday, November 8th, 2019 00:00 |

It was a sigh of relief for Opposition leader Raila Odinga when Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) retained its Kibra parliamentary seat despite a spirited fight by Deputy President William Ruto to wrest it.

A win for Jubilee candidate MCDonald Mariga would have been a painful humiliation for Raila, who calls the constituency his political “bedroom.”

By the time of going to press ODM’s Bernard Imran Okoth had taken an unassailable lead with nearly 25,000 votes followed by Mariga with nearly 11,000 votes. ANC’s Eliud Owalo was a distant third. 

The Independent Electoral  and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) had not announced the official results.

But in what appeared to be an early concession even before the election results had been declared, Jubilee MPs led by Nixon Korir of Lang’ata said the party had put up an impressive performance in Raila’s turf.

“We have improved our support in Kibra compared to the last election. It is an indicator that we will do well here in 2022,” said Korir, who was accompanied by John Kiarie (Dagoretti South) and Kimani Ichung’wa (Kikuyu).

Heads high

“We are walking with our heads high. Fielding a candidate here was itself a victory. They said we are entering the bedroom. We managed to get to the sitting room,” said Kiarie.

Speaking to journalists, ODM secretary general Edwin Sifuna said they won the election “resoundingly”. 

For two decades, the Orange party supremo was the area MP  when it comprised Kibra and Lang’ata, now represented by Korir.

The constituency has for the past three months been the arena for rivalry between Ruto and Raila with campaigns for the mini-poll being coloured with rich— and even toxic— overtones of the 2022 poll.  For political observers, it was akin to dress rehearsal for President Uhuru Kenyatta succession race which is still three years away. 

The two had pitched tent at the city constituency in what was seen as an attempt by Ruto to demonstrate influence beyond his Rift Valley backyard while Raila had to dig in to send a message to opponents that he still retains a foothold in his strongholds.

Ruto, who hopes to succeed Uhuru in 2022, appeared to use Kibra as a test ground for his battles with Raila, who he perceives as his biggest political opponent.

And though his candidate may have not won, Ruto’s supporters say he succeeded in rattling Raila’s base. 

So high were the stakes that the ODM leader had to fly home from Nigeria to cast his vote at Old Kibra Primary School yesterday.

“We are in our bedroom. I want to urge our people to protect our bedroom against infestation by strangers and outsiders,” said Raila shortly after voting.

To signify its intensity and significance, activities in Parliament were almost paralysed after both Jubilee and ODM politicians trooped to the slum constituency to monitor the voting, which was marred by violence and claims of voter bribery.

While the DP had rallied his troops to vote for Jubilee Party candidate Mariga, the ODM leader waged an aggressive campaign in support of Okoth, the brother of Ken Okoth whose death in July occasioned the by-election.

Other candidates were Eliud Owalo of Musalia Mudavadi’s Amani National Congress and Khamisi Butichi of Ford Kenya.

Yesterday, police were forced to fire in the air to protect former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale, MPs Benjamin Washiali (Mumias East) and Oscar Sudi (Kapseret) from a mob which attempted to flush them out of a polling station.

A majority of committees in Parliament had to call off their day’s business for lack of quorum as members were in Kibra observing the by-election for their respective parties.

Rig vote

And in the afternoon session, the quorum bell had to be rang several times to call in members for the sitting to commence.

Jubilee MPs in Kibra included Korir, Kiarie (Dagoretti South), Ichung’wa (Kikuyu) and Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot, while the ODM brigade was led by Simba Arati (Dagoretti North), Otiende Amollo (Rarieda) and Babu Owino (Embakasi East), among others.

Three people were arrested and four injured in the by-election.

ODM supporters accused Jubilee Party of bribing voters.  Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, who is the ODM deputy party leader, accused Jubilee of a plot to rig the vote.

Nairobi County Commander Philip Ndolo who headed the operation, however, said there were isolated incidents which they managed to contain.

Speaking at Old Kibra Primary School polling station, Raila asked party supporters to be peaceful. ODM youths attempted to block Mariga from accessing some of the polling stations.

-Reporting by George Kebaso, Bernard Gitau and Antony Mwangi

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