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Mariga fought a good fight in Kibra race

By Jael Mboga | November 8th 2019 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

Former footballer turned politician McDonald Mariga. [Standard]

The night fell and the count began.

It was time for Kibra to decide who would represent them in the 12th Parliament.

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The playground was set, McDonald Mariga would face rival Imran Okoth in the battle for Kibra.

Mariga was the underdog. Imran may have been viewed as having an advantage, owing to his connection with the former Member of Parliament - Ken Okoth.

The seat fell vacant in July following the death of Ken, who battled colorectal cancer.

The electorate is unforgiving, but Ken's death may have given Imran an upperhand in the battlefield.

Every candidate was using their best arsenal to win the seat.

While Imran resorted to door-to-door campaigns, Mariga tapped into what seemed to be the next best thing.

Several times the Jubilee candidate was spotted next to Nairobi MCA Anne Thumbi, Ken's girlfriend.

The two had a son, DNA tests confirmed.

If family ties were to soften Kibra voters' hearts, then Mariga had the perfect key - Thumbi.

The two were photographed next to each other, especially during Mariga's candidature woes.

Mariga filed a petition at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission’s Disputes Resolution Committee against his invalidation of his candidature for the Kibra by-election.

But that was a hurdle he jumped albeit with ease.

Mariga had more arsenal, perhaps stronger than the rest of his rivals, who totalled 22, excluding Imran.

Deputy President William Ruto was at the forefront in urging Kibra residents to vote for him on the Jubilee ticket.

But perhaps Ruto's hand in the campaigns hurt Mariga's run going by his false start.

As parties announced their candidates for the Kibra race, many Jubilee leaders warned that they will not campaign for a candidate shoved down their throat.

The announcement came at a time when Ruto denied that there were leadership wrangles in Jubilee.

The same was reflected during campaigns, when Jubilee leaders came out to support the ODM candidate, Imran.

Some of the Jubilee leaders who supported ODM include Kirinyaga Governor Anne Mumbi and Nominated MP Maina Kamanda.

Ruto Project

Mariga and Ruto both denied that the former was a project of the DP.

But Ruto's presence at the campaign trail painted a different picture.

The question widely asked was what the poll result would mean for Ruto's popularity.

Was Mariga's candidature a gauge ahead of the 2022 General Election?

The constituency has long been an ODM stronghold associated with Raila.

Raila and Ruto have had bad blood ever since the March 9 Handshake unity deal between the former Prime Minister and President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The DP and his allies have described the Handshake as a scheme by Raila to join the government through 'the back door'.

The Kibra by-election was a chance for Ruto to get back at Raila, by taking over what he called Raila's 'bedroom', a rhetoric that has spun out of control, with some saying anyone who needs help in the bedroom is not as strong as they pretend to be.

The numbers are in, the votes have been counted.

Mariga fought a good fight.

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