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Academics flexing muscles in Turkana race for Senate

By Lucas Ngasike | Published Thu, June 15th 2017 at 00:00, Updated June 14th 2017 at 23:19 GMT +3

The race for the senator's seat in Turkana County has gathered pace, with two academics and seasoned politicians engaging in a bruising battle.

Former National Irrigation Board (NIB) chairman Malik Imana and the former County Assembly Speaker Geoffrey Kaituko have kept their fires burning in their efforts to dislodge each other in August ballot.

Dr Imana will contest on a National Super Alliance (NASA) ticket while Mr Kaituko has settled for Jubilee Party after the two got clearance from the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to contest the senatorial seat.

Imana got a direct nomination from Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party while Kaituko was directly nominated by Jubilee. Both parties are fighting to dominate the vast semi-arid region.

Rival coalitions

The rival coalitions will take their voter-wooing fight to Turkana North, South, West, Loima, Central and East constituencies, where political patterns and the 'tyranny of numbers' depend on clanism and regional balance.

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Area Senator John Munyes, who is running for governor against the incumbent, Josphat Nanok, passed the Jubilee baton to Kaituko.

Nanok on the hand other hand has endorsed his former governorship rival Imana as the senatorial candidate after he defeated him by a landslide in the 2013 elections.

Imana holds a PhD in geophysics from Texas University in the United States, where he taught in various universities for more than decade.

Kaituko is a US Ford Foundation scholar with a master's degree in political science.

The two have taken the vote hunt to their home turf of Loima constituency. But the decision will be made by voters across the region because the swing votes depend on clan dynamics.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto have given Mr Munyes and Kaituko the green light to ensure that Jubilee sweeps all the seats in the region - the party has the majority of legislators across the six constituencies.

Political comeback

Ekal and Kaituko made a political comeback after losing in 2013. Ekal lost to Nanok while Kaituko was trounced by Loima MP Protus Akuja, who recently decamped to Jubilee from ODM.

The President removed Imana from the chairmanship of NIB after he decamped to ODM and replaced him with former Turkana Central MP Emmanuel Imana (not related to senatorial aspirant).

The former county assembly speaker prides himself on leading Members of the County Assembly to pass 30 bills under his watch.

However, Ekal also boasts wide experience in management and expertise in oil exploration.

Last year, he rallied behind Nanok in championing for a fair sharing out of oil revenue, which elicited a heated exchange of words between the President and the governor at a public event in Lodwar.

He and Nanok pushed for a 10 per cent oil revenue share, which the President declined to assent to.