Tough choices as Makueni votes in Senate by-election

Mutula Kilonzo Jnr with some of his supporters at Mtito Andei town in Kibwezi East constituency, Wednesday. [PHOTO: PAUL MUTUA/STANDARD]


MAKUENI; KENYA: As Makueni chooses new senator on Friday to replace the late Mutula Kilonzo, three contestants are seen to be in stiff competition to share the nearly 300,000 votes in the county.

Five candidates have expressed interest in the seat that was left vacant after the sudden death of Mutula Kilonzo on April 27, but his son Mutula Kilonzo Jnr (Wiper), Prof Philip Kaloki of Narc and Mutula’s major challenger in the March 4 elections John Harun Mwau (Pick) were seen as the major players in tomorrow’s race. Others are Jane Kitundu (LPK) and an independent candidate Albanus Katumo.

And as the candidates ended their campaigns by yesterday evening (6pm), analysts say the battle had been reduced into a two-man contest between Mutula Jnr and Kaloki and their respective parties and coalition outfits. Wiper is in the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy while Narc is a member of the ruling Jubilee coalition.

Mutula Jnr was nominated by Wiper to replace his sister Diana Kethi Kilonzo after her nomination was revoked by IEBC and later upheld by the High Court.

Analysts agree stakes are high and have opened a fresh rivalry between the two coalitions with the campaigns having degenerated into personal attacks.

“The contest has seen the rival alliances renew their bitter rivalry last witnessed in the March elections,” said a local political analyst who did not wish to be named.

Last-minute rush

Makueni has a voter population of 298,221 spread across its six constituencies. Makueni constituency has the highest number of registered voters (65,800), followed by Mbooni (60,032), Kibwezi West (55,912), Kaiti (41,976), Kibwezi East (40,631) and lastly Kilome with 35,764 voters.

Assuming all voters who supported the late Mutula will vote for his son, then Mutula Jnr will have unmatched head-start, though analysts say he must first manage to command his Mbooni constituency.

Mutula Jnr has been urging voters who overwhelmingly supported his sister to back him while Kaloki enjoys the support of most elected MPs and ward leaders in the county. Mwau has been conducting what his supporters call door-to-door campaigns and his presence cannot be assumed.

On Wednesday, candidates and their campaigners employed air and ground manoeuvres in a last-minute dash to hunt for votes.

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