Ruto picks KRA boss to lead UDA poll board, quell wrangles

Embu Governor Cecily Mbarire flanked by top UDA officials gives a statement at the UDA headquarters after the president chaired National Steering Committee meeting in preparation for grassroot primaries this month. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

President William Ruto has appointed Kenya Revenue Authority chairman Antony Mwaura as United Democratic Alliance National Elections Board chairperson, to mitigate internal discord within the ruling party.

Mr Mwaura’s appointment comes amid escalating tensions within the party, particularly between Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua and other senior figures eyeing top political positions.

The decision to reconstitute the National Elections Board and appoint Mwaura as chairperson aims to neutralise emerging factions within the party and solidify its unity ahead of grassroots polls from April 26 to August this year.

President Ruto, during a meeting of the National Steering Committee at the party headquarters on Tuesday, surprised the team by picking Mwaura, as each faction was pushing for its own people.

“Arrival of the Party Leader, President William Ruto, at the Party Headquarters. Senior Party officials who have received the party leader include Deputy Party Leader Rigthi Gachagua, Chairperson Governor Cecily Mbarire and Secretary General Cleophas Malalah,” UDA posted on its social media handles.

Others who attended yesterday’s morning meeting before the President left for Ghana, include organising secretary Vincent Kawaya, vice chairperson Omar Hassan, party treasurer Japheth Nyakundi, leader of majority in the Senate Aaron Cheruiyot and majority leader in the National Assembly Kimani Ichungwa, among others.

Sources disclosed that various factions had been pushing for different individuals to hold key positions within party leadership, and the President surprised them when he insisted that Mwaura continues holding the position.

UDA chairperson Cecily Mbarire said the appointments are meant to ensure smooth elections. “The National Steering Committee was sitting to deliberate on the upcoming grassroots elections as well as constitution of the party organs. UDA is committed to free and fair grassroots election in all 47 counties,” said Mbarire.

Similarly, Joy Mdivo was named chairperson of the Electoral Dispute Resolution Committee. The National Steering Committee also nominated the National Elections Board and the Disputes Resolutions Committee.

The party said the appointments are strategically intended to oversee a fair and transparent election. Mwaura, with his extensive experience in last UDA elections ahead of the 2022 polls, is expected to lead the seven-member National Elections Board effectively, with Veronica Kiberenge as his deputy.

Other members of the board include Lydia Munika, Jimmy Kaingi, Mary Mutinga, Halake Dida and Linda Kiome.

Mdivo, on the other hand, serves as Kenya Power’s Board chairperson, and will be deputised by Adrian Kamotho, who will lead a nine-member team comprising Barbra Japan, Kaberia Isaac, and Yvonne Cherop, among others.

The party said the nationwide elections will be conducted in four phases, starting from April 26 to August 24, encompassing various counties, in a staggered approach to ensure efficient organisation and maximum participation of party members.

President Ruto and DP Gachagua convened the meeting at UDA headquarters to address critical issues regarding the upcoming elections after postponing them twice.
The rescheduled the elections from December last year to April this year. The part said the appointment of the Internal Dispute Resolution Committee, chaired by Rebecca Tonkei, underscores UDA’s commitment to address any grievances or conflicts that may arise during the electoral process.
It added that the inclusion of diverse members within the committee reflects a balanced and impartial approach to dispute resolution.

Mbarire said adequate arrangements have been made to ensure a smooth election across the country, so there is no need to postpone the elections any further.
Four months ago, UDA allowed members of state corporations and boards to vie for elective party positions, challenging the advisory issued by the Attorney General and Prime Cabinet Secretary. 

Mr Malala emphasised that directors of state corporations are eligible to participate in the grassroots elections, citing a High Court judgement that supports their eligibility. The party has urged the Attorney General to reconsider his initial position in light of this legal clarification.