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The long journey to Kiambaa high-octane by-election

By George Njunge | July 15th 2021

Police officers stand guard at Karuri High School polling station in Banana, Kiambaa Constituency. [Allan Mungai, Standard]

Today’s Kiambaa parliamentary by-election was prompted by the death of Paul Koinange who was serving his second term after being elected in 2013 and 2017.

In 2017, Koinange was elected on a Jubilee ticket wave that swept across central Kenya, meaning the elections were being won at the nominations stage.

Koinange died of Covid-19 while undergoing treatment. Until his death, he was the Chairperson of the National Assembly Administration and Security Committee

Koinange was buried at his ancestral home in Kiambaa on April 4th 2021.

The prominent Koinange family was not left out in the contest.

Lena Koinange, the daughter of Jomo Kenyatta-era minister Mbiyu Koinange and her niece Damaris Wambui declared their bid for the seat on a Jubilee ticket. Mbiyu Koinange, a Kenyatta right-hand man died in 1981.

Lena and Damaris abandoned their bid in favour of Kariri Njama who is now the Jubilee candidate. Njama came second in the 2017 polls. His candidature was viewed by the Jubilee Party as the man to beat UDA candidate John Njuguna Wanjiku who is being viewed as his main rival.

Voters queue to vote at Karuri Primary School polling center, Kiambaa Constituency. Polling centers opened at 6 am. [Emmanuel Too, Standard]

Kariri took up the candidature and was subsequently supported by Damaris and Lena who have been seen in Jubilee camping trucks wooing voters for Njama.

The Kiambaa campaigns have been hot in the last 21 days with Jubilee-allied members and UDA-leaning MPs and senators fanning out in the populous.

The contest has been billed as a supremacy contest between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto.

The two teams have well-oiled online teams which tore into each other in a vicious propaganda war.

The online armies have been operating full-throttle with high-tech photographic and video units to keep their accounts fresh.

So important is the by-election that the deputy president at one time camped in the constituency campaigning for the UDA candidate.

The UDA has been saying that defeat in Kiambaa race will bury Jubilee.

The two camps have spared no resources to campaign for their respective candidates. The teams have crisscrossed Kiambaa wards in droves day after day.

The Jubilee team and UDA team comprising elected MPs nominated and elected senators camped in Kiambaa with trucks mounted with ear-drum shattering sound systems and professional DJs.

A voter casting her ballot at Karuri High School polling station in Banana, Kiambaa Constituency. [Allan Mungai, Standard]

The teams made use of popular local and upcoming musicians to attract crowds.

The Jubilee team lead by Limuru MP Peter Mwathi who succeeded Paul Koinange as the chairman of Parliamentary Select Committee on Security, Kieni MP Kanini Kega and social media influencer Pauline Njoroge met often to strategise on how to help the jubilee candidate to bag the seat.

The team would meet and dispatch high-powered campaign contingents across the constituency in trucks and SUVs. The team would set base in the vote-rich Ruaka, Banana, Cianda, Karuri, Gachie and Ndenderu areas.

On the other hand, the UDA team led by Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua, Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichungwa, Muranga Senator Irungu Kangata and Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro mounted formidable campaigns.

The Kiambaa campaigns have been peaceful something that experts and opinion-shapers praise.

On Sunday, when police blocked the entrance to Karuri Primary School where UDA was to award the winner in a soccer tournament, the UDA team moved to a nearby shopping centre where they addressed a rally.

UDA and Jubilee supporters have been peaceful even when they run into each other.

The last days of the campaign saw Jubilee candidate Njama and UDA’s Njuguna display a show of force that effectively reduces by-election to a two two-horse race but a surprise cannot be ruled out.

Covid 19 Time Series


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