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President Uhuru Kenyatta furious over recent string of losses

President Uhuru Kenyatta addresses residents of Ndathi in Kieni Constituency, Nyeri county, February 1, 2021. [Mose Sammy, Standard]

President Uhuru Kenyatta is furious over a string of losses that his administration has been handed in in recent days.

Sources within the presidency say the Head of State is particularly angered by the outcome of Rurii ward and Juja parliamentary by-elections, where his Jubilee Party was beaten.

It came after the High Court declared his and Raila Odinga’s pet Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) project illegal and unconstitutional, in a major blow to efforts to review the 2010 Constitution and manage next year’s succession.

On Wednesday, the President is said to have read the riot act to some top Jubilee officials for reportedly bungling the Juja and Rurii campaigns.

The involvement of civil servants, especially from Harambee House, was reportedly also discussed, with politicians in the president’s inner circle blaming the power wielders for using brute police force, occasioning a protest vote.

The new MP for Juja George Koimburi and his sister Jane Momenya at Mang’u high school tallying centre soon after he was declared the winner on Wednesday, May 19, 2021. Jubilee candidate Susan Waititu stormed out of the tallying centre claiming that her votes had been stolen. [Collins Kweyu, Standard]

Abuse

Both Raila’s ODM party and United Democratic Alliance (UDA), associated with Deputy President William Ruto, raised concern over what they said was an abuse of police officers, chiefs and their assistants to influence the Bonchari by-election.

Jubilee lost to ODM in Bonchari after Pavel Oimeke narrowly won the seat with 8,049 votes, followed by Jubilee Party’s Zebedeo Opore, who garnered 7,279 votes [770 difference] and UDA’s Teresa Bitutu with 6,964 votes.

In Juja, People’s Empowerment Party (PEP) candidate George Koimburi won with 12,159 votes against Jubilee’s Susan Njeri’s 5,746 votes.

In Rurii ward, Nyandarua County, UDA candidate Francis Githaiga was declared the winner.

 

The president reportedly called Jubilee vice chair David Murathe by telephone and gave him a dressing down, questioning how he lost in his backyard despite an assurance that Jubilee was on the verge of victory.

“He chased everyone away at State House. He told everyone to go home arguing that they were not telling him anything substantive. He said that going by the losses in the by-elections, they were not doing their homework,” said a source privy to the happenings.

“The President was unhappy and blamed Murathe, Jubilee Secretary General Raphael Tuju, CAS Winnie Guchu and his other close advisors and administrators for the loss,” the source said.

Another source said the president does not want to see the leaders. “He said he won’t talk about the matter again and argued that the leaders’ claim that vote was rigged holds no basis since the counting was done publicly,” the source added.

But the President’s allies downplayed the outcome of the polls.

Mr Murathe said he does not understand why Ruto’s camp was obsessed with facing off with Uhuru, who is not planning to run for a seat in the next General Election.

He instead told the DP’s camps to direct their energy to potential opponents in the 2022 polls instead of engaging in shadow boxing.

“This is politics my friend; Bonchari, for example, was not our seat, it was a PDP seat; the zone is ODM and it won, what is the big deal?” posed Murathe.

He said if PEP leader and Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria was popular in the region, he should resign and defend his seat on that party’s ticket.

Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu said they were ready to learn from the losses in the by-elections

Critical votes

“This is war, made up of many battles. Our side has won several critical ones. Those who support the DP, have won some, but also lost some critical battles,” said Wambugu.

But Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua, an ally of the DP and a fierce critic of Uhuru, said the wins in Juja and Rurii mark a new beginning in the political landscape.

“We have advised the President against his advisors. We supported and elected him, we love him, we prayed for him when he went to The Hague and we advised him against the Handshake and BBI but when he did the contrary, he lost us,” said Mr Gachagua.

He added: “The President should come back home and take care of his people. They want money in their pockets. We will work with him to revive the economy. Going forward, no one will force anything on the mountain people. We will not be intimidated.”

Gachagua urged the president to call Jubilee leaders for honest conversation and stop listening to wrong advice.  

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Download the BBI Judgement by all seven Judges - Civil Appeal No. E291 of 2021
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