It's D-Day for Jubilee dream as bigwigs fight for survival

President Uhuru Kenyatta address journalists at State House to assure Jublee Party aspirants of free and fair nominations exercise and warns of acts of violence 20/04/17 NAIROBI PHOTO MOSES OMUSULA

Political careers will be hoisted and shattered when thousands of aspirants scramble for Jubilee Party’s ticket in hotly contested primaries.

Yesterday, President Uhuru Kenyatta sought to calm anxiety among aspirants with assurances that there are no preferred candidates.

This came on the back of protests against alleged favouritism and vote rigging.

President Uhuru said he  and his deputy, William Ruto, are neutral in the process and are ready to work with whoever will be elected by the people.

“Let me emphasise that there are no candidates favoured by the Jubilee Party leadership and I will work with the people that wananchi elect and together we shall present to the nation our shared vision and agenda.”

Rising tensions

Uhuru, who addressed the press at  State House, sought to calm the rising tensions in the ruling coalition and warned politicians with a penchant for electoral violence that the party would not hesitate to disqualify them from the polls.

The leaders assured the more than 8,000 aspirants that it had invested a lot of resources in delivering a free, fair, and credible process.

Uhuru further warned the 60,000 Jubilee poll officials that no monkey business will be entertained by the party.

The remarks came against the backdrop of claims of behind-the-scenes support for certain aspirants by some of Uhuru's and Ruto's allies.

In Nairobi, for instance, there has been a perception that e Uhuru supports former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth for the county’s top seat.

Mr Kenneth’s main rival, Senator Mike Sonko, has complained that there were deliberate efforts, including being prevailed upon to step down for another slot, to make him not run for the seat in favour of the 2013 presidential candidate.

Thursday, Uhuru defended himself over the claims, denying that he had endorsed Kenneth.

He said he only told Gatanga residents to “pray for their son who is running in Nairobi” while in the company of Kenneth.

He clarified that he had offered to mediate but “if they have decided to go to the polls then we cannot circumvent democracy”.

Jubilee on Wednesday night pushed the Nairobi primaries to April 24 instead of the initial April 21, raising queries whether the party was buying time in an effort to reach a consensus in Nairobi.

But Uhuru said the decision was made purely because of logistics in managing the process.

He stated that his office was, however, still open for any Jubilee aspirants who want him to mediate over a ticket.

In Uasin Gishu County, Governor Jackson Mandago, Kapsaret MP Oscar Sudi, and Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter have accused the Office of the Deputy President of trying to influence the primaries in favour of aspirants perceived to be Ruto’s allies.

Mandago has claimed that businessman Bundotich Kiprop, popularly known Buzeki, was being helped to clinch the seat.

Uhuru talked tough against violence, warning that merchants of poll chaos would be dealt with according to the law.

He said his administration was concerned about incidents of chaos and violence witnessed in party primaries.

Chaos has been witnessed in both Jubilee and the Opposition camps.

Uhuru's warning

 “Let anyone that is considering using violence hear me clearly – it will not be tolerated and you will face the consequences,” he warned.

He said the party has put robust and extraordinary measures in organising the polls, saying, “the point of weakness will only be the actions of any unruly aspirant who would wish to subvert this process by engaging in violence."

He urged Jubilee supporters to turn out in large numbers to vote their preferred candidates.

He told aspirants who will not satisfied with the process to raise their concerns in a 'civilised' manner and use the internal party processes set up for the purpose of considering and adjudicating such concerns.

A snapshot of the party's battlegrounds show fireworks are expected in Uhuru's Mt Kenya region.

In Nairobi, Sonko will battle with 2013 presidential candidate Kenneth for the seat.

In Murang'a, Governor Mwangi wa Iria is feeling political heat from Kigumo MP Jamleck Kamau.

In Meru, Senator Kiraitu Murungi is Jubilee's sole candidate for the governor seat. In Kirinyaga, former Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru is seeking to unseat Governor Joseph Ndathi.