Battle looms as Embakasi, Wajir polls near D-day

Aspirants who lost in the 2017 General Election form the majority of the 15 candidates cleared by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to vie for the Embakasi South by-election on April 5.

Among the 15 are two women determined to win in the constituency that has five wards - Kwa Reuben, Pipeline, Kwa Njenga, Imara Daima and Kware with a population of over 300,000 residents, but only 150,000 registered voters, according to IEBC. They are Roseline Awino (MTP), Rameshchandaraia Gorasia (DP), Urbanas Kalumba(PNU), Augustine Kavindu(GCK), Samuel Masaki (FPK), Julius Musili (WDM-K), Zablon Minyonga (KNC) and Alexander Mulatya (MCC).

Others are Jairus Musyoka (GDDP), Enosh Nyakweba (KSC), Angela Nyalita(TAK), Enock Nyaribari (RLP), Peter Ogeta (PDU), Credius Oigara (JFP) and Irshadali Sumra (ODM).

The seat fell vacant after Mr Sumra successfully filed a petition challenging the election of Mr Mawathe. The Wiper candidate was declared winner with 33,880 votes against Sumra’s 33,708.

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In his petition, the ODM candidate blamed the electoral commission for his defeat, claiming the returning officer “declared the loser as the winner and the winner the loser.”

“Embakasi South is hungry for a leader and not interested in party politics. I will continue to give equal opportunity to everyone within Embakasi South irrespective of tribe, race or religion,” promised Mawathe.

Sumra is banking on his development record to win back the seat. Ms Awino is giving it a second shot after her 2017 rallying call to bring change, curb insecurity, empowerment, create jobs, eradicate corruption, promote education and deal with land-grabbing was shattered at the ballot. “I plan to start table banking for women, which has never been thought of by past regime leaders; establish a rescue centre for the vulnerable, because I have seen many die because of domestic violence; ensure that  Government money works for the people; and make Embakasi a corruption-free zone,” she says.

Mr Minyonga, who unsuccessfully vied for the South Mugirango (Kisii County) seat, blames the past regime for mismanaging the consistency and misusing development funds.

Meanwhile, poll fever has gripped Wajir West constituency ahead of the April 25 by-election, where Kanu candidate Ibrahim Sheikh and Jubilee’s Mohamed Kolosh are set to face off.

The candidates have hit the ground running, with rallies and door-to-door meetings taking place in the vast constituency. Last week, Mr Sheikh held strategy meetings in Adhemasajida, Kanjara, Kukale, Griftu and other centres, where he told supporters that he was confident of winning the seat that fell vacant following the nullification of Mr Kolosh’ election by the Supreme Court.

The immediate former MP is confident of recapturing the seat. He ditched ODM party for Jubilee. At a time most of the region’s leaders have switched allegiance to Jubilee, Sheikh has stuck with the independence party and his supporters say his choice could pay off.

Kolosh, who was unveiled by Deputy President William Ruto at Jubilee headquarters two weeks ago, has the advantage of deep pockets and support of the ruling party.   

On the ground, it is widely believed that ODM and Kanu could be planning to combine forces to floor Kolosh. Sources privy to discussions within the parties say Sheikh is being offered a plum state job to step down in favour of ODM candidate Mohamed Yussuf Elmi.

“Many meetings have been held, but Sheikh has been adamant. He was summoned to Nairobi last week from WajirWest. He wants to go the whole mile, having petitioned Kolosh’ election despite the rigours that came with it,” a source said. However, when contacted, Sheikh declined to comment on the matter, only saying: “The campaigns are going on. I will talk to you later.”

Should Sheikh and Elmi work together, it could tilt the vote against Kolosh. The immediate former MP and ODM candidate’s Degodia clan forms 60 per cent of the votes, while the Aljuran clan, where Sheikh comes from, has 40 per cent. Kolosh and Elmi will thus divide the clan’s votes, while that of the Aljuran would remain intact in the same basket.

Aden Abdi, a voter, said: “We would like Sheikh to go for the seat. But if he is to join government, it should be a Cabinet position, given that this region is rarely considered for high-profile appointments.”

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2017 General ElectionIEBCEmbakasi South by-electionWajir