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Headache as leaders jostle for Jubilee tickets ahead of polls

Nairobi Senator Mike Mbuvi Sonko (centre) accompanied by Kiambu Governor William Kabogo (right) and other leaders in Ruiru on Sunday. Even before the Jubilee Party is officially unveiled, there are fears of possible fallout emanating from the primaries. (PHOTO: KAMAU MAICHUHIE/ STANDARD)

President Uhuru Kenyatta will today make a televised announcement about Jubilee Party, on whose ticket he plans to seek re-election.

The President and his deputy, William Ruto, have received the new party's instruments, including the constitution and nomination rules.

Parties affiliated to the ruling coalition are set to dissolve to form the new party that is expected to be launched next month.

However, even before the Jubilee Party is officially unveiled, there are fears of possible fallout emanating from the primaries.

With barely a year before the 2017 General Election, all eyes are on the party to see how it will move to appease leaders interested in various positions without occasioning a fallout.

Judging by the recent storm in Nairobi occasioned by the proposal to have Water Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa vie for the governorship, the primaries will be hotly contested.

Mr Wamalwa's endorsement by some Jubilee leaders from Kiambu has been heavily criticised by Nairobi leaders led by Starehe MP Maina Kamanda.

Though they welcomed Wamalwa's bid, the MPs, mostly from TNA, said they will not allow any candidate to be imposed on the Nairobi electorate.

This scenario is likely to be replicated in many counties, with many aspirants questioning how fair the nominations will be. 

Although Deputy President William Ruto has assured supporters that the nominations will be free and fair, that has done little to calm the nerves of many aspirants.

Some of those eyeing seats in next year's poll are already in Jubilee Party as interim officials, something their rivals see as a possible head-start.

They have called for those in the party secretariat to resign before vying for the seats they are interested in.

Nomination battles are expected to be fierce in counties like Nairobi, Kiambu, Meru, Murang'a, Nakuru and Nyeri where influential politicians have declared their interest in vying for gubernatorial seats, come next year.

In Kiambu, the incumbent William Kabogo will face off with Kabete MP Ferdinand Waititu while in Murang'a, Kigumo MP Jamleck Kamau is seeking to unseat Mwangi wa Iria.

In Nairobi, senator Mike Sonko, Dagoretti South MP Dennis Waweru, Nominated MP Johnson Sakaja and former Starehe MP Margret Wanjiru are all eyeing the gubernatorial seat.

Governor Kabogo has now teamed up with Sonko to form a united force in a move seen by observers as likely to pressure the party to conduct free and fair nominations.

The senator, who joined Mr Kabogo on Sunday at Gitothua Secondary School in Ruiru for a political rally, said they would not accept endorsement of candidates, adding that they would also accept nothing short of free and fair nominations.

"I'm in Jubilee to stay and not going anywhere. All that I ask of the party leadership is to ensure that nominations are free and fair," Mr Sonko said.

Yesterday, Mr Iria added his voice to those calling for leaders within the Jubilee Party secretariat to relinquish their positions to ensure the party's nominations are free and fair.

The governor said politicians who have shown interest in political seats and are in the secretariat could influence the nominations to their favour.

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