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Independent aspirants causing parties jitters

By Josphat Thiong’o and Judah Ben-Hur - May 20th 2022
Ballot boxes at a polling centre in the 2017 elections. [File, Standard]

The surge in number of independent candidates is posing a challenge in regions perceived to be Kenya Kwanza and Azimio strongholds.

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairperson Wafula Chebukati on Wednesday announced that over 5,000 candidates had applied to run as independents.

Some 55 aspirants applied for the presidential ticket, out of which 14 are political party aspirants, one a coalition aspirant and 40 are vying as independents. Notably, the number of independent presidential candidates has shot up from eight in the 2017 elections.

Governorship aspirants are 244, of which 167 are political party aspirants and 77 independent.

“The presidential and governorship aspirants will be cleared as candidates by the Presidential Returning Officer and the County Returning Officers respectively,” said Chebukati in a statement.

To be cleared for the presidential seat, the aspirants will have to furnish IEBC with a list of at least 2,000 supporters who are registered voters from majority of counties which must be accompanied by copies of their identification documents.

Presidential and governorship aspirants, as well as their deputies, who hold degrees from foreign universities, must obtain recognition and an equation of their academic qualification from the Commission for University Education. 

In Nairobi, businesswoman Agnes Kagure has re-emerged as an independent candidate after losing the Jubilee ticket to Polycarp Igathe.

Baringo Governor Stanley Kiptis will also be running as an independent candidate having lost in the UDA nominations.

Incumbent MPs seeking to retain their seats as independents include Charles Njagua (Starehe), Shakeel Shabir (Kisumu East), Fred Ouda (Kisumu Central), Bernard Okoth (Kibra ) and Vincent Tuwei (Mosop).

Others are Alfred Keter (Nandi Hills), National Assembly Deputy Speaker Moses Cheboi (Kuresoi North), William Chepkut (Ainabkoi), Cornelly Serem (Aldai) and Mishra Swarup (Kesses).

“Returning Officers shall register candidates from May 29 to June 7,” read the IEBC statement in part.

IEBC will hold a pre-nomination meeting with all the presidential aspirants (or their authorised representatives) on May 23 at the Bomas of Kenya from 8am.

And IEBC has published names of 5,801 independent candidates.

In a Gazette notice dated May 13, the commission said the names came from a list of independent candidates who had submitted their symbols and expressed intention to contest in the August 9 General Election.

The commission stated that the candidates “are required to present themselves to the respective Returning Officer on the appointed dates”.

Woman’s eye

The list had 38 presidential candidates running on independent ticket, 74 governor, 108 Senate, 95 Woman Rep, 748 members of the National assembly and 4,738 members of the country assembly.

Some names in the presidential category are Ndekerere Joseph Kundu, Gichira Ptah Solomuzi, Lichete Reuben Kigame and Jeremiah Nixon Kukubo.

What stood out was the choice of symbols with some candidates having a bell, image of a white woman’s eye, capsule tablet, spanner, guitar, binoculars, iron box, gumboots, face mask, baboon and shower head.

The Office of Registrar of Political Parties recently cleared more than 7,000 independent candidates to run for the six elective positions effectively, making their candidature the single largest compared to any other political party in the elections.

This election has also seen tremendous increase in the number of independent candidates compared to about 4,000 candidates in 2017, a situation the Registrar of Political Parties Anne Nderitu has attributed to ease of registration and reduced paper work.

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