Deputy President William Ruto is set to unveil candidates in the forthcoming by-elections, setting the stage to face-off with President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Allies of Dr Ruto said they would sponsor candidates in Nairobi, Machakos, Matungu and Kabuchai on the newly-formed United Democratic Alliance (UDA) or as independents.
This implies that the DP – who is also the Jubilee deputy party leader – will campaign against candidates of the ruling party in what is set to open a new battle front.
The latest development comes amid reports that impeached Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko has sought clearance to run for the seat.
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The embattled politician is said to have obtained clearance from the Higher Educations Loans Board (Helb), the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and Kenya Revenue Authority.
Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa yesterday said Sonko is one of the politicians the new party is considering supporting in the mini-poll.
“We have a pool of individuals who have shown interest for the position. There is Mike Sonko, Simon Mbugua (Eala MP), and Margaret Wanjiru,” said Barasa. He said the DP is expected to unveil the candidates anytime from today in readiness for the contest.
But Sonko’s spokesperson Ben Mulwa said it would be premature for him to declare interest in a by-election that has been suspended by the court.
Mr Mulwa said the former Nairobi governor has not communicated anything to the effect that he will be a candidate in the by-election.
“I have not heard the former governor make any official announcement that he will be vying for the gubernatorial in the by-election. It would be pre-mature for Sonko to decide to run in an election that has already been suspended,” he said.
In Machakos, at least 12 politicians have shown interest to run on UDA in the mini-poll set for March 18. Yesterday, former Machakos Senator Johnstone Muthama led the aspirants in a consultative meeting with DP in Nairobi.
“Our breakfast meeting primarily focused on the upcoming by-election. We have agreed as it has been the Hustler Nation tradition, a scientific opinion poll shall be carried out and the aspirants have collectively agreed to respect and support the will of the people,” he tweeted.
In Kabuchai, Ruto has identified Evans Kakai.
MPs Caleb Kositany (Soy), Isaac Mwaura (nominated) and Hillary Kosgei (Kipkeleon West) said they are pulling all the stops to ensure they grab the seats.
“We will have candidates in all the vacant seats. We should not be reminded of party loyalty because even the president endorsed ODM candidate. We are free to support any candidate,” said the MP.
Kositany said that they might be forced to participate in some of the polls by backing independent candidates as they put in place structures for UDA.