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Raila victory lap in Kajiado as Jubilee reflects on defeat

POLITICS
By The Standard Team | March 18th 2015

KAJIADO: The partying in the Orange Democratic Movement and CORD after their victory in the Kajiado Central parliamentary by-election continued Tuesday as former premier Raila Odinga joined the celebrations.

The ODM and CORD leader said the victory of Elijah Memusi Kanchory was proof that the Opposition remained a force to reckon with.

“We have come to thank the people of Kajiado for voting for Memusi. We urge you to stand with ODM. This is a big win for the Opposition and it is now clear that we have revived the party, ready for take-off in 2017,” said Raila.

“We have defeated them (JAP) and we shall defeat them come 2017.This was our seat and it has come back to us.

We shall meet them in future," said Raila.

"They came to bury TNA. They came to bury URP and form JAP. Are you going to allow Kajiado to be turned into a burial site for political parties?" he asked the residents.

The MP-elect thanked the voters and said he would work hard to unite the people of Kajiado Central regardless of their political affiliation.

"If you voted for him, he would have told you I bought you, but you voted for me and I did not spend any single cent on you. Now that you have given me the job, I will work for you all," said Memusi.

And leaders in the Jubilee Alliance Party (JAP), the vehicle President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto plan to use for their re-election bid in two years time, was in deep reflection after failing to wrest from CORD and ODM the only National Assembly seat they have held in Maasailand since the 2013 General Election.

By Tuesday, it was evident that the narrow loss had triggered a blame game in Jubilee over who or what was responsible. Tutui got 15,508 votes against Memus's 16,008, and leaders did not pull their punches on those they felt should bear the blame.

Marakwet East MP Kangogo Bowen (URP) called the defeat a wake-up call for JAP.

ORGANISED STRATEGY

"While CORD and ODM had an organised strategy using co-ordinated structures down to the grassroots, JAP was disadvantaged by the confusion on who between TNA and URP should control campaigns," said Bowen.

Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria did not mince his words when he termed the loss an embarrassment to JAP.

"ODM was better organised. They worked as a team with every member having a clearly stipulated role to play to ensure they retained the seat. There were no strategies, planning and teamwork in JAP. In fact, some like me were begging to be allowed to join the campaign team," said Kuria.

Memusi's win was all the more humbling for JAP after Deputy President Ruto raised the stakes by calling the by-election a test run for the new party, and called for the dissolution of his United Republican Party (URP) and President Kenyatta's The National Alliance (TNA) by 2016.

"The JAP nomination process was flawed. Kanchory, who participated in the JAP nomination, was the right candidate to fly the party's ticket. The President was subjected to ridicule by campaigning for a candidate who could not enable JAP clinch the seat. Charles Keter, Aden Duale and Jamleck Kamau should take the blame," said Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter, referring to the three MPs who were instrumental in JAP's formation.

NO REGRET

Charles Keter, who is the Kericho Senator, said he does not regret backing the JAP candidate.

"Kajiado Central was not our seat in the first place. I still have faith in the new party and I have no doubt it is still a wise decision for parties affiliated to the Jubilee coalition to dissolve and join JAP," said Keter

Chuka/Igambang'ombe MP Muthomi Njuki said that although the outcome cannot be used to predict future elections, JAP had miscalculated during party nominations.

"We did not know that the perceived weakness of our candidate was to be used by our opponents to their advantage. We will definitely spring back in future elections and show what mettle we are made of," said Njuki.

Mwea MP Peter Gitau claimed the arrest of Jubilee MPs following protests in neighbouring Narok County had boomeranged on JAP in Kajiado Central.

"We squarely blame Interior CS Joseph Nkaissery who ordered the arrest of Narok leaders during a demonstration. This was very humiliating to elected leaders, and this has cost JAP the seat because these people are one family," said Gitau.

But the optimistic voices in JAP maintained that the loss was a temporary setback and the party can use the experience to modify its campaign strategy in readiness for the upcoming Kabete parliamentary by-election to replace former MP George Muchai who was murdered.

"As JAP, we have learnt our lesson, but it was a good fight and we took it to their doorsteps and lost it there," said Kigumo MP Jamleck Kamau.

Critics pinpointed JAP's lack of grassroots structures, its disjointed campaign, backlash from the Government's handling of the leadership wrangles in neighbouring Narok County, the popularity of Memusi and the splitting of votes in key Maasai clans as reasons for the loss.

Kajiado Central elders said that most voters are more familiar with TNA and so popularising the new outfit in a by-election proved futile.

"TNA supporters felt that JAP was handed to them from Nairobi and they were not involved in its formation. For now, JAP is buried in Kajiado," said the source.

"We put a lot of focus on this by-election because we expected JAP to test their popularity in a contest in either central or in Rift Valley where they were certain of a win. That they chose to go after our seat meant we had to fight back furiously and that is why Raila toured (the area) six times, Kalonzo four and Wetang'ula thrice," said ODM's Director of Elections Junet Mohamed.

"We also had the right candidate and the Government underestimated the resentment flowing from Narok County where we received support from some MPs," he said.

"As members of ODM and CORD, we are glad we delivered the seat. We co-operated as a team and the resultant synergy and close supervision was worthy. We applaud our MP Memusi,'' said ODM's Butere MP Andrew Toboso.

"As CORD coalition we are not happy with IEBC. It has failed to act using relevant legal laws under their jurisdiction. They appear helpless in tackling bribery claims in their watch. There was open use of state equipment with Nkaissery and parastatal head Agnes Ndetei openly campaigning for the JAP candidate," said ODM chairman Mbadi.

"Our progressive agenda resonated well with the voters in Kajiado. We knew we were competing against state machinery and worked strategies to confront it. From the word go, our focus was to win fair and square," said ODM's Political Affairs Secretary Opiyo Wandayi.

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