Sibling rivalry exposed in UDA primaries

A vendor smiles as she walks past security manning UDA offices during President William Ruto's visit on April 2, 2024. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

The ruling United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party is facing an ultimate test.

The party is struggling to prevent cracks among members from widening and weakening a political force that aims to pacify the entire country in its fold.

This is after the ongoing grassroots elections for officials opened sibling rivalry among key members and threatens to crumble the cohesion it has enjoyed since they came to office in 2022.

There are fears the chaos and rigging claims experienced during the United Democratic Alliance grassroots elections in some counties could spell doom to the country’s ruling party.

In the past, party elections in some parties such as ODM prompted some disgruntled members to quit the party, while others withdrew their support to a bare minimum.

On Friday, UDA held elections in Narok, West Pokot, Nairobi, Homa Bay, and Busia.

The second phase of the grassroots elections will be on June 22 and will be carried out in 13 counties. The third phase will be held on August 10 in 15 counties and the final phase will be held on August 24 in 12 counties.

In anticipation of the upcoming grassroots elections, UDA unveiled what it termed as a transparent and accessible dispute resolution framework.

Smooth process

“UDA aims to ensure a smooth electoral process that upholds the democratic values of the party,” read the post in part.

True to expectation, violence, low voter turnout, and rigging claims marred the first phase of the grassroots elections. Heavy rainfall also caused a delay in the distribution of the voting materials.

In Narok County, some scuffle was witnessed at Lenana Primary School polling centre in Narok town after voters barred a county official from opening the ballot boxes with claims of being partisan and would favour one side

. Narok East MP Lemanken Aramat, who was at the polling centre, complained that the elections kicked off on the wrong foot, describing them as shambolic.

Supporters of Narok West MP Gabriel Tongoyo and those of Governor Patrick Ole Ntutu almost clashed in one of the polling stations over claims that ballot materials for Melili ward had been tampered with.

Tongoyo and Ntutu are seeking the county chairmanship position.

Tongoyo claimed the ballot boxes and poll gadgets were opened inside a vehicle at Siyiabei, before reaching the polling centre in Narok North. He claimed that that was an early sign that the elections were shambolic.

Bitter rival

Tongoyo, a bitter political rival to Ntutu further complained that his opponent was using county employees, including county ministers, chief officers, presiding Officers, and clerks in the polling centres raising worry that the move would skew the results of the election to one side.

Governor Ntutu dismissed the claims saying the elections kicked off well despite the delays because of rains.

Tongoyo, yesterday unveiled results in the various polling stations indicating he had won.

The MP at the time of announcing the results said they were waiting for Emurrua Dikirr and Kilgori’s results.

He said like any other elections, there are always cases of malpractices and admitted that such was experienced in Narok. He accused his competitors of running away with voting materials and voting in their vehicles.

He said him and his team had evidence and they will be able to demonstrate it in due course.

The party, he said should take note and deal with the perpetrators.

“Overall, we are having a resounding victory of about 67 per cent. Is it a big show and indeed shows the future is in us? Our team managed to beat them hands down,” Tongoyo said.

Ntutu also declared himself the winner saying he garnered over 80 per cent of the delegates in 512 stations that went to the polls.

“I am pleased to announce that Team Patrick Ole Ntutu has emerged victorious in the just concluded United Democratic Alliance Party grassroots elections, securing a significant mandate from the electorate. Our success is underscored by an overwhelming majority of 82 per cent,” he posted on social media.

Addressing the press at his residence in Narok Town, Ntutu said out of the 9,191 from all the wards, 7,598 were from his camp. His competitor, he claimed, got a paltry 1,593, equivalent to 18 per cent.

Ntutu said they were speaking with party headquarters in Nairobi to set another date for two wards, Olpusimoru and Oloropil in Narok North that didn’t vote since the ballot materials failed to reach the centres due to heavy rains.