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Kenya decides: Veterans shown the door by Young Turks

Veteran politicians who have long reigned supreme are among the casualties in this year’s General Election.

These older leaders, some who have served the country for more than three decades, were given a run for their money by youthful competitors who used new tricks to woo voters in the hotly contested elections.

Those who have been sent home include Jimmy Nuru Angwenyi (Kitutu Chache North), Naomi Shaban (Taveta), Sam Ongeri (Kisii), Amos Kimunya (Kipipiri), Wafula Wamunyinyi (Kanduyi), Chris Obure (Kisii), Stephen Manoti (Bonchari), Zebedeo Opore (Bobasi), Sospeter Ojaamong (Teso), Joshua Kutuny (Cherang’any) and Kimani Ngunjiri (Bahati), among others.

Angwenyi, 75, who deputises President Uhuru Kenyatta as the Jubilee Party leader and is fondly referred to as “Father of the House” by his colleagues in Parliament, was handed the exit pass for the Kitutu Chache parliamentary seat by 33-year-old Japheth Nyakundi after an active stint in politics that spans over 25 years.

Nyakundi, who vied on a United Democratic Alliance (UDA) ticket, garnered 11,834 votes against Angwenyi’s 8,260 votes.

Angwenyi served as deputy Majority Leader in the National Assembly after his election in 2017. He was hoping to secure a sixth term in Parliament.

The legislator’s middle name Nuru translates to ‘light’, which has been dimmed by a first-timer in the parliamentary race.

Still in Gusiiland, 83-year-old Ongeri has been shown the door by Simba Arati, 40, in a race that saw them transverse Kisii County in their quest to take over from Governor James Ongwae.

Ongeri has been in politics since the 1980s along with another race loser, Obure. Both men served in President Daniel Moi’s regime as legislators and high-ranking civil servants.

In Bobasi constituency, Opore, 74, failed to take the seat from incumbent MP Innocent Obiri of the Wiper Party. Over in Bonchari, Manoti (Jubilee) was floored by Charles Onchoke of the United Progressive Party (UPA).

In western Kenya, Wamunyinyi, who was first elected in Parliament in 1997 through 2017-only losing a single election in 2007-was floored by little-known Bungoma lawyer John Makali who garnered 32,029 votes against his (Wamunyinyi’s) 20,270 votes. Wamunyinyi is the DAP-K party boss and a leading lieutenant in the Azimio Western Kenya brigade.

During the 2017 elections, Makali came second to Wamunyinyi who sprung to stardom in 1997 when he floored then political heavyweight Lawrence Sifuna to become MP for the constituency hosting Bungoma Town on a Ford Kenya ticket.

Wamunyinyi defended the seat in 1997 and 2017, only jumping ship in 2002 to vie on the popular Narc Party ticket in 2002.

In his own words, Wamunyinyi said it was former celebrated multiparty crusader Masinde Muliro who shaped his career “when he picked me and tasked me to be a Ford-Kenya youth winger”.

And as fate would have it, political analyst Ken Echesa said it was Wamunyinyi’s war with current Ford Kenya boss Moses Wetang’ula that majorly contributed to his downfall.

Wetang’ula had earlier vowed to teach Wamunyinyi and his DAP-K peers a ‘political lesson’ in Bungoma, which was well executed when he poached Makali from ODM to trounce the former police officer.

In Busia, Governor Ojaamong, who had won four straight elections, stumbled on his fifth attempt and entered the list of the mighty felled in the region.

During campaigns for the Teso South MP seat, Ojaamong had been warned by the candidate who beat him, Mary Emase, to steer clear of the race as he had ‘outgrown’ the MP seat.

“Ordinarily, all of us want to move up the ladder; moving from a semi-permanent house to a permanent house or getting promoted from a senior teacher to a head teacher going for the presidency after the governor,” she said.

In Kisumu, Kisumu West MP Olago Aluoch was dislodged from a seat he has held for 20 years. 

This follows a win by ODM’s Rosa Buyu who garnered 39,615 votes followed by Olago who managed 19,045 votes. The race had attracted five other competitors.

It is not the first time the duo was facing off, after a similar contest in 2007 and 2013 ended with Olago winning.

Buyu said her win had been “ a long coming”. She extended a hand of friendship to Olago and urged him to work with her to transform the constituency.

“This is a bit emotional for me because for the last 15 years I have put my foot forward to try to get an opportunity to serve in the constituency since 2007 and 2013,” she said.

Yesterday, allies of Olago told The Standard that the MP was yet to make up his mind whether to appeal the loss or throw in the towel and resume civilian life.

Taveta constituency also voted for a new youthful politician-cum-lawyer John Bwire (Wiper Party) who had 18,742 votes against Shaban’s 7,772. The Jubilee Party legislator has served in Parliament for 25 years.

Shaban, a dental surgeon by profession, rode to power in 2001 after Taveta MP Basil Criticos resigned from Parliament alleging harassment and frustration. This triggered a by-election.

A year later, Shahban successfully defended the seat on a Kenya African National Union Party ticket despite a strong wave of President Mwai Kibaki and ODM leader Raila Odinga.

Among the seasoned politicians that Shaban, who is a key ally of President Kenyatta, has trounced in the past include Criticos, Jackson Mwalulu and Othinel Lukindo (deceased).

In Kipipiri, Kimunya, who served as Majority Leader, lost to former Nyandarua Woman MP and EALA MP Wanjiku Muhia.

He was another political player who spearheaded the Azimio campaign in the Mt Kenya region. He did not even wait for the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to announce the winner.

Instead, the MP, who has served for 15 years, decided to concede defeat as votes were counted.

He also became the first legislator in this year’s elections to thank the electorate. “We appreciate that life is dynamic, shaped by constantly emerging and often surprising circumstances. We did our best for Kipipiri, we are proud of our achievements, and that history will never be erased. The people have however made their choice, and we respect it. We wish them well.”

Ngunjiri, a vocal supporter of Deputy President William Ruto lost the Bahati parliamentary seat to Irene Njoki of Jubilee Party.

Njoki got 34,308 votes against Ngunjiri’s 26,809. Ngunjiri is known for his political outbursts that mostly targeted President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Cherangany’s Kutuny failed to retain his seat which is likely to be won by Patrick Simiyu- the former chief of staff in the Trans Nzoia County government.

Kutuny entered Parliament in 2007 after humiliating then-powerful minister Kipruto arap Kirwa. He lost the seat in 2013 before bouncing back in 2017.

In Mt Kenya where ‘Yellow Fever’ wave took over, provisional results showed Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi had lost the seat to Woman Rep Mwangaza Kagwiria by a huge margin. Kagwiria, who was vying on an Independent ticket, had 181,243 votes against Kiraitu’s 71,487.

Robert Amalemba, Renson Mnyamwezi, Eric Abuga, Clinton Ambujo, James Munyeki, Daniel Chege, Ben Ahenda and Wainaina Ndung’u