Jubilee seeks to wrestle Kibra seat from ODM's grip in poll

ODM leader Raila Odinga (centre) talks to an aspirant of the Kibra by-election as party Secretary General Edwin Sifuna looks on during a rally in Kibera on Sunday. [David Gichuru, Standard]
President Uhuru Kenyatta’s party has joined the Kibra parliamentary by-election, setting up a contest with Opposition leader Raila Odinga's ODM.

Yesterday, Jubilee Party Secretary General Raphael Tuju invited members interested in vying for the party's ticket to apply to the National Elections Board (NEB).

Mr Tuju explained that the decision was arrived at after consultations. 

The move comes a day after Raila unveiled the aspirants eyeing the seat left vacant in July following the death of ODM's Ken Okoth. Some 26 aspirants are scrambling for the ODM ticket.

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Kibra was hived off the larger Langata Constituency, which was initially represented by Raila. The area is perceived as Raila’s strong support base. The late Okoth became the first MP on the ODM ticket in 2013.

Jubilee's decision goes contrary to Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja’s earlier pledge that the ruling party will not field a candidate in the by-election in solidarity with the late MP.

In the spirit of the handshake, Jubilee didn’t field candidates in Migori senatorial polls and early this year, it withdrew from Ugenya and Embakasi South National Assembly by-elections.

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However, it faced off with the ODM for the Wajir West by-election after the court nullified the election of Ahmed Kolosh.

Mr Kolosh later clinched the seat on a Jubilee ticket in a contest that saw Deputy President William Ruto lead negotiations to have some candidates withdraw from the race to support Kolosh.

SEE ALSO :How Kibra, Gandu by-elections landed politicians in trouble

The Kibra seat could rekindle the rivalry between the two parties. The contest also comes at a time Ruto, who is the ruling party's deputy party leader, has accused Raila and ODM of rocking Jubilee and therefore it will present an opportunity for a clash.

“Following consultations with the party leadership concerning Kibra constituency, we would like to communicate to our membership that JP will be fielding a candidate in the forthcoming Kibra constituency by-election scheduled for November 7,” Tuju said in the letter.

“It is noteworthy that the neighbouring Langata constituency was won by JP candidate, Nixon Korir, contrary to conventional political analysis.”

He continued, “We are therefore giving notice to our members who are interested in contesting the seat on a JP ticket to forward their applications to the National Elections Board (NEB).”

Tuju said the conditions and timelines will be under the dictates of the party NEB. Details may be obtained from the NEB part’s Directorate of Elections.

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Insiders told the Standard that the aspirants interested in the seat will have to present their papers by Friday.

Raila unveiled aspirants seeking ODM's ticket on Sunday ruling out direct nominations and announcing that the party primaries will be done on August 31.

Sakaja who spoke during Okoth’s memorial service vowed to rally behind any candidate ODM would field in the spirit of the handshake.

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Jubilee partyODMKibra parliamentary by-election