Maendeleo Chap Chap Party has withdrawn its candidate former Cabinet Minister Mutua Katuku from the Machakos senatorial race.
This now leaves the floor to Urbanus Ngengele of the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) and Wiper’s Agnes Kavindu, in what has been billed as a ‘supremacy battle’ between top political leaders in the region.
Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua described the move as “extending goodwill to the President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga, along with other B.B.I partners.
He said the Maendeleo Chap Chap Party supported the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta and is backing his development agenda.
“Maendeleo Chap Chap Party supported the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta and in the spirit of consistency, we support his development agenda and the political stability of the Nation. The party extends goodwill to the President, to Rt. Hon. Raila Odinga and other B.B.I partners by withdrawing its candidate from the forthcoming by-election,” said Mutua.
Machakos County, which is widely considered the lower Eastern’s economic and political capital, has about 624,000 registered voters, according to data on the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission's (IEBC) website.
Mavoko is the county’s most populous constituency with 118,180 registered voters, according to a voters' list published by IEBC in 2017.
It is followed by Machakos town with 109,877 and Mwala with 81,273 voters.
Yatta comes fourth with 73,940, followed by Matungulu with 66,611, Masinga with 61,989, Kathiani with 54,909 and Kangundo with 53,475 voters.
Analysts say the mini poll slated for Thursday will be a litmus test for the county's political bigwigs.
Ngengele has the support of former Machakos Senator, Johnstone Muthama, who is the interim chair of UDA, a relatively new political outfit associated with Deputy President William Ruto.
Katuku was being backed by Maendeleo Chap Chap party leader and Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua.
On the other hand, Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka has been pushing for the election of Kavindu, who is Muthama's former wife.
Ruto, Mutua and Kalonzo have all declared interest in the presidency in next year’s General Election and their individual performance in the mini poll could be used as a yardstick for their popularity.
Muthama, who is leading the campaign team for Ngengele, is desperate for a win.
He must prove his political influence as the UDA chair and especially in the political battle taking place in his backyard.
On the other hand, Maendeleo Chap Chap brigade led by Mutua has been mounting door-to-door campaigns for Katuku, with teams meeting thousands of focus groups in villages across the county.
In the Wiper camp, Kalonzo has marshalled the support of several MPs loyal to him as well as religious leaders to drum up support for Kavindu.
The former vice-president has been fighting off allegations by the opposing camps that his party’s choice of Kavindu was an attempt to settle political scores with Muthama.