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High stakes as political parties start picking candidates

By Moses Nyamori | Published Thu, April 13th 2017 at 00:00, Updated April 12th 2017 at 23:39 GMT +3
ODM National Election Board chairperson Judith Pareno. (Photo: Elvis Ogina, Standard)

Today marks an important milestone in the 2017 election calendar as political parties start picking candidates for various seats ahead of the final showdown on August 8.

The fight for the 47 governors’ seats across the counties is expected to be fierce as the current county chiefs seek to retain their jobs against other political heavyweights.

Parties are required to nominate their candidates for various seats between today and April 26.

In the end, many, including in the ruling Jubilee coalition and Opposition’s NASA, will have fallen because of the cut-throat nature of the race.

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Experience, good network and resources committed to campaigns will determine who wins the nominations.

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Stakes are high due to the fact that in areas where the mainstream parties consider their strongholds, winning a particular party’s ticket during nominations is almost a guarantee that one will win the main race. This will apply to Jubilee candidates in Mount Kenya and Rift Valley, and ODM in Nyanza.

In Nakuru, five top politicians seeking the governor’s seat are expected to battle for the Jubilee ticket. Only one will be picked and losers asked to back the winner for party’s sake.

Those hoping to supplant the incumbent Kinuthia Mbugua are former Nacada boss John Muthuto, former assistant minister Lee Kinyanjui and prominent lawyer Kimani Kabage.

In Kiambu, the battle of titans will be between Governor William Kabogo and his political nemesis, Kabete MP Ferdinand Waititu, who gave Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero a run for his money in 2013 when he managed half-a-million votes.

The do-or-die nature of the battles and the logistical nightmare make the nominations a delicate phase of elections for parties because mismanaging the process often triggers bitter fallout.

In the past, party primaries have been marred by violence, some leading to deaths, especially in areas perceived to be strongholds of particular political outfits.

Today, Raila Odinga’s ODM will conduct nominations in Bungoma, Busia and Machakos. Senate Minority Leader Moses Wetag’ula’s Ford Kenya will also hold primaries in Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi, Lamu, Tana River and Taita Taveta today.

Overall, about 6,000 candidates aspiring for governor, MP and MCA are seeking ODM’s tickets, majority being in Nyanza. At least 33 aspirants will square it out for the governorship.

This is after ODM handed 16 aspiring governors, 104 aspirants for MP and hundreds of MCA aspirants direct tickets.

ODM Wednesday explained its resolve to conduct a free and fair process, assuring aspirants there will be no repeat of what has been witnessed in the past.

“The board wishes to remind our aspirants and supporters that the mode of election will be strictly by secret ballot and that the party register shall be used in the exercise. Polling Stations will be opened at 6:00am and closed at 5:00pm,” said ODM National Election Board chairperson Judith Pareno.

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party has a total of 8,000 aspirants seeking the party’s ticket for various seats across the country. The ruling party will conduct its nominations on April 21. It has announced that 20,000 clerks will be hired to manage the process.

Those vying for Jubilee’s ticket include 106 aspirants gunning for governor and 1,006 eyeing the post of Member of the National Assembly in 261 constituencies countrywide. JP has 161 senate aspirants, while Women Rep post has attracted 171 aspirants.

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