Chebukati bows to parties' push on deadline for running mates

IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati flanked by commissioners Abdi Guliye and Irene Masit addressed the Media at Anniversary Towers in Nairobi yesterday. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

The  Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has finally bowed to pressure from political parties to review the deadline for naming running mate to May 16.

Initially the electoral agency chairman Wafula Chebukati had directed all presidential aspirants to name their running mates by April 28 something that did not sit well with some candidates who sought for more time. The commission extended the deadline to name running mate after a meeting with officials of Azimio, Kenya kwanza, Chama Cha Kazi and Safina parties at the IEBC offices in Nairobi, yesterday.

On Sunday the commission affirmed the April 28 deadline arguing that a precedent was set in 2017. But yesterday, Mr Chebukati granted the parties more time which also applies to the governor candidates.

"We have had a consultative meeting between representatives of various political parties to discuss the key issues of deputies and as a commission we are guided by stakeholder engagement which is primary and we have agreed to set May 16 as the deadline for naming running mate. Independent presidential and governor aspirants have also until May 16, to name their respective running mates," he said.

He however maintained that the deadline for the submission of names of aspirants for Senate, Members of Parliament, Woman Rep and MCA’s still remains April 28.

"This will help assist the commission to go ahead and submit the names to the Chapter Six institutions so that they can carry out due diligence on the particular aspirants," he said

Mr Chebukati said the agreement follows successful talks and consensus by the parties involved.

"Each had their own interpretation of the law and they all have their own reasons as to why they wanted more time," he said.

The IEBC chairman had initially rejected the argument by Azimio that presidential hopefuls become candidates only after the first week of June after the commission receives their papers and that is when they should be asked to name their running mates.

"The date for submission of aspirants lists for presidential candidates and deputies as well as governor candidates and deputies will be on May 16," he said.

The parties now have three weeks to name running mate as they had said they would have presented names should IEBC have maintained the April 28 deadline. Meaning that Azimio and Kenya Kwanza had names ready. United Democratic Alliance (UDA) Secretary-General Veronica Maina said Kenya Kwanza now have enough time to announce Deputy President William Ruto’s running mate for the coming polls.

"We wanted more time because the discussions are still ongoing within the party. The debate is still on to know who is best fit and which candidate will be a face of the entire 47 counties. We want all our people to be represented," she said

The extension of the deadline is a win for Azimio and Kenya Kwanza as they initially wanted IEBC to receive the names between May 29 and June 6. The delay by the coalitions could perhaps be a strategy to ensure the window to vie as independent candidate closes. According to electoral law, the window to vie as independent will be shut on May 2, meaning no one can change alliance should they feel left out in the entire process.

Last week during the first Azimio la Umoja One Kenya council meeting that was chaired by President Uhuru Kenyatta, they resolve to constitute an advisory panel to pick the most suitable running mate candidate for Raila Odinga. So far, Narc party leader Charity Ngilu's name has been forwarded to the panel as a potential running mate.

Others whose names have been floated include Narc Kenya party leader Martha Karua and Wiper's Kalonzo Musyoka. Others proposed are former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth, Agriculture CS Peter Munya,  governors Lee Kinyanjui (Nakuru) and Nderitu Muriithi (Laikipia).

In Ruto's camp, Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi, Tharaka-Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki, National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi, Kirinyaga Governor Ann Waiguru and Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua have been listed as potential running mates.