Protests as contenders and their supporters alleged scheme to manipulate party polls

Protesters march to United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party Nakuru branch office in protest over the alleged plot to interfere with the party nominations by incumbents on April 13, 2022. [Kennedy Gachuhi, Standard].

Aspirants in Nakuru County have alleged a scheme to manipulate United Democratic Alliance (UDA) primaries. 

Preparations for the process were yesterday marred with claims of interference by MPs and party officials. Aspirants and their supporters took to the streets to protest.

The party will hold its party primaries today in 10 constituencies in Nakuru County amid growing mistrust while the exercise for Nakuru Town West parliamentary seat has been postponed to April 19. “Due to unforeseen exigencies, UDA’s National Elections Board (NEB) has postponed nominations for Nakuru Town West parliamentary to April 19, 2022,” the party said in a statement.

Protesters marched to the party’s county offices seeking audience with branch officials but were in for a rude shock after they found the premises deserted.

According to the aspirants, some incumbent leaders working with rogue party officials had planted their allies as clerks and presiding officers to aid in rigging.

In Nakuru Town West, the aspirants blamed the postponement on attempts by “powerful persons” to favour some aspirants.

“One politician had her relatives picked to be nomination officials. In the constituency, she has been vouching for two persons related to her,” protesters claimed.

The residents vowed to keep off the exercise and called on the party to replace the officials or have them swapped with a team drawn from a different sub-county.

In Njoro, parliamentary aspirants led by Njogu Njoroge claimed there had been reduced to spectators despite assurance that the process would be free and fair.

“We have been reduced to flower girls,” said Njogu. John Kaniaru, an aspirant, raised concerns over lack of regional balance in picking nomination officials. “We demand change. Some are employees and campaigners of those in office. With the involvement of such persons, we won’t have a free and fair nomination,” said Kaniaru. Mwamba Kinyanjui, another aspirant, claimed planning was being done in secrecy.

“There has been no engagement between the aspirants and the party on critical matters such as the relocated tallying centre and access to the register they intend to use,” said Mwamba. Jenniffer Kairu, who is vying for the woman rep, said aspirants had confidence in the party which should not be abused by a few individuals. “We have been at the grassroots campaigning and popularising the party. We should not be treated as squatters in a party that we have worked so hard to build,” said Kairu.

There were similar protests in Gilgil where aspirants led by Stephen Gatimu said they would not allow the exercise to be conducted by partisan individuals. UDA’s NEB chairperson Anthony Mwaura told The Standard they had received the complaints and they were being addressed.