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Battle for Nairobi seats threatens to rip Jubilee right in the middle

By Vincent Achuka | February 26th 2017
Nairobi gubernatorial aspirant Peter Kenneth (sec. left) addressing aspirants supporting him. Photo: FILE

The jostling within Jubilee Party (JP) over who should contest for which seat in Nairobi County is threatening to scuttle unity in the party.

The battle to secure the JP nomination revolves around two axis — one spearheaded by former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth who wants to become Nairobi governor and the other led by Senator Mike Sonko, who wants to vie for the same seat.

The infighting is more intense in the Sonko axis where both Dagoretti South MP Dennis Waweru and former Starehe MP Margaret Wanjiru have said they want to be deputy governor, a non-elective position where the governor candidate picks a running mate.

Wanjiru has said if she is not picked for running mate, she will upset the apple-cart and run for governor.

"My stand has always been that it is either Sonko or me who will be the governor, but we have very many spoilers," says Wanjiru.

Waweru, who had initially announced that he would run for governor, has said he is ready to settle for any position as long as Jubilee is assured of victory. He has also insisted that there was no tension in the so-called 'Team Nairobi'.

"Anyone can say that, that is the nature of politics. But let no one lie to you that we are divided. For me, even if I am offered the position of a sweeper, as long as it is within Team Nairobi, I will accept," Waweru told The Standard on Sunday, even as he dismissed the Kenneth group, which his team is strongly opposed to.

"I know Kenneth is desperate to show we are divided but he won't succeed. We have so many positions to share among us on top of a Cabinet position that the President has promised us so long as we deliver the seat," he said.

Other potential contestants for lower-level seats have also been sparring over who should get which post. Karen Nyamu, Wangui Ng'ang'a and Millicent Omanga all want the JP ticket to vie for the woman's representative position.

And Ng'ang'a is already bristling at Omanga's entry into the race.

"When we formed the team, there was a collective agreement that it would be Wangui on the ticket. Omanga has realised that Kenneth's team is losing and now she wants to jump ship, but it is too late," Ng'ang'a said.

"I am still their woman representative. Whoever is challenging this will meet me at the ballot and I will put them in their place."

The undercurrent in the Nairobi contest is being felt across JP, particularly because it is believed that Kenneth is supported by those in President Uhuru Kenyatta's camp, while the Sonko group appears to be receiving tacit support from Deputy President William Ruto.

It is believed that DP Ruto's earlier choice for governor – Energy Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalawa – did not find favour with many within Jubilee, forcing him to back out of the race.

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