Parties prepare for Nairobi by-election despite court order

KANU candidate for the February 18 Nairobi gubernatorial by-election Betty Adera with supporters at the party headquarters in Nairobi on December 30, 2020. [Collins Kweyu,Standard]

Jubilee and ODM parties have vowed to continue with preparations for Nairobi’s by-election despite a court order on Monday that suspended the polls originally slated for February 18,2020.

This is even as the race for the positions of governor and a deputy intensifies with both the ruling and the opposition party engaging to determine who they will field for the respectful positions following last month’s impeachment of Mike Sonko.

Jubilee Party has already cleared two candidates, Dennis Waweru, a former Dagoretti South MP and businesswoman Agnes Kagure.

It is however in ODM where the battle for the governor’s running mate has reached fever pitch, with the race pitting Fred Rabango (a former senatorial aspirant in Homa Bay), Edwin Sifuna (the party secretary general) and Beth Siengo (the ODM women league leader).

Rabango said it was a pleasant surprise for his name to be floated as one of the people likely to be the running mate.

“This is a surprise to me. But if the party sees it fit to front me for that position to serve the people of Nairobi, I will humbly accept. I am a member of ODM and I have worked and supported it.

“Having run for Homa Bay senator position twice and with my experience and success in business, I think I have what it takes to serve the people of Nairobi as the deputy governor,” he said.

Raphael Tuju, the Jubilee secretary general said the ruling party is engaging its nominees to determine who it picks as the front runner.

“The courts have spoken but we are preparing ourselves so that, just as soon as the by-election is allowed to proceed, we hit the ground running,” Tuju said.

He also revealed that negotiations between ODM and Jubilee were going on in order to unveil Handshake candidates.

“As Jubilee, we first wanted to discuss our own issues and then talk with our friends at ODM to see the combination we have,” he said.

“We were pretty close to unveiling the joint candidature but then the court ruling was made.”

Sifuna said preparations were still ongoing and asked that the timelines be extended.

“Time for preparations and campaigns might be eaten into. We might have to recover the time lost due to the court process if they say the by-election will continue,” he said.

On Monday, Justice Antony Mrima suspended the special gazette notice issued by IEBC last month calling for a by-election in Nairobi after Sonko’s impeachment.

Overturn ouster

The judge ruled that the by-election is suspended pending the hearing and determination of a case filed by Sonko.

This gave the former governor a reprieve in his quest to overturn his ouster.

Sonko was impeached by the Nairobi County Assembly on December 3, 2020.

He was accused of gross violation of the constitution, abuse of office, gross misconduct, and crimes under national law.

The decision to impeach him was upheld by the Senate on December 17, 2020.

Twenty seven senators voted in favour of his impeachment.

Sixteen senators voted to oppose each of the charges, with two lawmakers – Mutula Kilonzo Jr (Makueni) and Johnson Sakaja (Nairobi) - opting to abstain from the vote.