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Jubilee coalition allies sharply divided over governor seat

POLITICS
By Moses Nyamori | August 31st 2016
Jublee Nairobi aspirants from (left) Stephine Kariuki joined by CS Eugen Wamalwa, Bishop Margaret Wanjiru, Moses Kuria and Rachael Shebesh in prayer at Jesus is Alive Ministries Nairobi where they declared interest in various seats within Nairobi 14/08/16 [PHOTO:MOSES OMUSULA/Standard]

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto’s allies in Nairobi have split into two camps over the city governorship race.

There are sharp differences between the two camps that threaten to scuttle Jubilee’s bid to unseat the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy’s (CORD) Governor Evans Kidero.

Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko, Dagoretti South MP Dennis Waweru and The National Alliance (TNA) Chairman Johnson Sakaja are in one camp that is said to have State House blessings.

The other camp comprises Water Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa, former Starehe MP Margaret Wanjiru and Woman Representative Rachel Shebesh, who are said to have the Deputy President’s support.

Waweru and Sakaja will run for Nairobi Senate and deputy governor slots under the new political alliance tag-named “Team Nairobi”.

Speaking in Nairobi after attending a funeral service, the duo said they had sacrificed their individual political ambitions with the sole goal of defeating Dr Kidero.

“One of us will be the Nairobi governor, another Nairobi senator and deputy governor,” said Sakaja.

Waweru said details of their line-up will soon be made public and the three of them had promised to back whoever will be picked for the gubernatorial seat.

But sources within their circles point to a likelihood of Waweru and Sakaja running for governor and deputy, with Nairobi senator Mike Sonko defending his current seat.

The differences between the camps are slowly turning ugly and point to a looming titanic battle among the Jubilee aspirants over the coalition’s ticket. On Saturday, Sonko stormed a meeting convened by Wamalwa and Wanjiru in Dandora, forcing the two to cut short their political rally.

The same ugly scene was replicated on Sunday at Nairobi’s City Stadium when the two leaders, who have announced plans to forge an alliance, were forced to scamper for safety after pro-Sonko youths stormed the event, also attended by Ms Shebesh.

Sources privy to the ongoing political realignment within Jubilee hinted the leaders aligned to one side of the coalition are against the candidature of a Mt Kenya-leaning candidate for the Nairobi seat since Uhuru will be defending his seat.

The camp’s game plan is to have Wamalwa and Wanjiru run as governor and running mate, in that order.

This explains Waweru’s concerns following the “endorsement” of Wamalwa for the seat.

He has insisted he should not be victimised because he comes from the same community as the President.

“No one chose to be born in Central Kenya. There is absolutely no reason for anybody to be uncomfortable with my candidature or that of anyone from Mt Kenya. Nairobi is a cosmopolitan county and no aspirant should be looked at through tribal lenses,” Waweru told The Standard.

On Friday, Jubilee MPs in Nairobi led by Starehe MP Maina Kamanda convened a meeting to address the differences.

The meeting was boycotted by Sakaja, Sonko and Waweru, who claimed its objective was to validate Wamalwa’s candidature.

The leaders, sources said, felt the agenda would only give legitimacy to Ruto’s push to have Wamalwa as the Jubilee candidate.

The three leaders later that day met at Serena Hotel and hinted at forging an alliance ahead of the party’s nomination.

Wamalwa and Wanjiru were the only gubernatorial aspirants who attended the meeting at Norfolk Hotel.

But Kamanda dismissed claims he called the meeting to push for Wamalwa’s agenda and wondered why some aspirants refused to attend when all they wanted was to bring them together to campaign harmoniously in the city.

Publicly, the President and his deputy have announced Jubilee has no preferred candidate and warned against using their names.

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