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Independent candidates complicate Uhuru, Raila campaign trails

By Moses Nyamori | Published Tue, June 20th 2017 at 00:00, Updated June 19th 2017 at 22:33 GMT +3

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition candidate Raila Odinga are having some trouble campaigning in their strongholds as they face a revolt from supporters of independent candidates.

They have been told to their faces by both Jubilee Party and National Super Alliance (NASA) supporters to drop the “six-piece suit” voting pattern.

The rebellion is visible in Central, Rift Valley and Nyanza regions, which are the two top presidential candidates’ bastions.

Uhuru and his deputy William Ruto were on Sunday confronted with the reality during their campaigns in Kiambu County, where a section of the crowd expressed displeasure at their pushing for the election of Jubilee Party candidates.

Abandon campaigns

At some stopovers, the President was forced to ask for his votes and abandon campaigns for the ruling party’s candidates. Once in a while, the crowd drowned his voice out by shouting the names of preferred candidates. Supporters of Governor William Kabogo and other independent candidates persistently disrupted the campaigns by waving placards reading “UhuRuto Sawa (okay). Others: Let the people decide.”

At Thika Stadium, Thika Town MP Alice Ng’ang’a was booed off the stage by a section of the crowd that supported independent candidate Patrick Wainaina.

The DP however pleaded with them to understand that the party needed foot soldiers to support its policies at the county and national levels, and asked them to elect only those running on a Jubilee ticket.

It was the same scenario in Rift Valley, where Ruto calls the shots, when he was shouted down for supporting some Jubilee candidates.

In Elgeyo Marakwet, Uhuru and Ruto came face to face with the stiff competition facing Governor Alex Tolgos, who is defending his seat through Jubilee, after supporters of independent candidate Moses Changwony denied him a chance to address a political rally at the Chepkorio show grounds.

No different

The situation is no different in Nyanza region, particularly in Kisumu, Homa Bay and Siaya counties. When Raila was in Siaya a fortnight ago, he was told off when he asked voters to elect Governor Cornel Rasanga. Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo is seeking to unseat Mr Rasanga as an independent candidate, and is posing a great challenge to the incumbent.

In Kisumu, calls to support Raila’s presidency are unanimous but there is a major rift regarding supporting ODM candidates for other seats.

Two weeks ago, Nyando MP Fred Outa fled from mourners who accused him of being part of the cartel that rigged the ODM party primaries in Kisumu.

Senator Anyang’ Nyong’o, who won the ODM ticket for governor, is facing hard times campaigning in the county as he fights the perception that he did not win the primaries fairly. He will face the incumbent, Jack Ranguma, who is defending his seat as an independent.

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