Jitters over plan for Jubilee-ODM joint candidates in 2022 elections

Jared Onuko a standard eight school dropout and a resident of Migori town working on the image of President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga handshake on July 19, 2021.  [Caleb Kingwara, Standard]

The plan by Jubilee and ODM parties to field joint candidates for all elective seats has triggered fears that many individuals may be locked out of the 2022 General Election.

A host of lawmakers allied to President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga yesterday said there was need for further deliberations on the matter to avoid disenfranchising aspirants.

Officials behind the strategy, however, argue that fielding candidates separately will work in favour of United Democratic Alliance (UDA) of Deputy President William Ruto.

The scheme aims at ensuring the two parties win majority seats in the National Assembly and the Senate as well as the county assemblies in areas Uhuru and Raila enjoy support.

A draft framework agreement by Jubilee and ODM states that they seek to field a joint presidential candidate.

The two parties further seek to field joint candidates for all the 1,450 wards, 290 constituencies and the 47 counties.

Jubilee Coalition Joint Parliamentary Group (PG) Secretary Adan Keynan, and MPs Jeremiah Kioni (Ndaragwa) and Mark Nyamita (Uriri) backed the proposal to field joint candidates in metropolitan areas.

They said there was need to map out the country and establish the strength of each party before agreeing on which party to produce a candidate for a particular seat.

The three argued that fielding candidates separately will see the partner parties cannibalise each other  like it happened in certain areas where all four affiliates of the defunct National Super Alliance (NASA) lost some seats to Jubilee.

Eldas MP Keynan said ODM has proved a dependable political partner and it was only logical that both parties endorse a long-term working partnership.

“Which is why we plan to hold a Jubilee National Delegates Conference (NDC) later in the year to chart our next political course, and we believe our members will endorse this political partnership with ODM and other like-minded parties,” he said from Glasgow, Scotland where he is attending this year’s Conference of Parties (COP26), on climate change and global emissions, alongside President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Nyamita said it will only be reasonable for Jubilee and ODM to field joint candidates if they decide to form a coalition.

“It is reasonable for the two parties to field joint candidates in all our areas of interest so that we avoid cannibalisation,” said the MP. “In NASA, we lost several seats because of having multiple candidates. If we are in a coalition it is only reasonable to field joint candidates to avoid aiding our opponents into winning.” 

Kioni said each party will be allowed to field candidates in their strongholds and backed by the partner outfit.

“It is a welcome gesture to field joint candidates. Where Jubilee is strong it should field a candidate and be supported by ODM. Even in Nairobi, there are areas that ODM is stronger and other areas where Jubilee is stronger,” he said.

The Ndaragwa MP noted that fielding joint candidates will definitely have casualties but this has to be done to ensure the intended coalition gets necessary numbers in Parliament.

“Certain decisions will be difficult but we will have to make it our resolve to build a united country. We have to end the corrosive nature of politics through this kind of negotiation. It doesn’t matter what position will be put for negotiations,” he added.

ODM secretary general Edwin Sifuna yesterday said the agreement on how the two parties will go into the polls will be made public once the deal is sealed.

Sifuna said ongoing negotiations were being handled by the two party leaders. “The talks are ongoing. Activities to ratify can only be planned once the deal is sealed. Negotiations for coalitions are handled by the party leader.”

Jubilee secretary general Raphael Tuju on Monday announced plans for the NDC largely expected to endorse the coalition pact.

“Our discussions with ODM are ongoing. There are discussions done at our level and there are discussions being done at the level of party leaders,” he said.

Kieni MP Kanini Kega and his Nyeri Town counterpart Ngunjiri Wambugu said there was no agreement yet for the two parties to field joint candidates. They duo said their focus at the moment was to rejuvenate the party before signing any pact with ODM.

“There is nothing of that kind because before we engage out there, we must have our house in order. Focus is to strengthen our house first,” said Kega. “We will kick out those who have betrayed our cause. It is the new officials who will discuss our issues with ODM. We need substantive party officials.”

Wambugu said the discussion to field jointly or not will be made when the NDC convenes. “It is too early; right now we want to strengthen our party, it is only after building our party that we can have a strong coalition,” said Wambugu. 

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