Politicians allied to the Kenya Kwanza coalition have launched an onslaught against independent candidates as they push for six-piece voting in Rift Valley.
The coalition is bracing for a fierce duel with candidates who lost in recent party primaries. The losers, who have since ganged up to challenge their rivals, claimed that voting was marred by irregularities.
Several elected leaders are also contesting as independent candidates after boycotting primaries for fear that the process would not be free and fair.
The Kenya Kwanza effort comes as political analysts predict that popular candidates who will contest as independents may upset the UDA party candidates in the General Election
The coalition’s politicians, led by Amani National Congress party leader Musalia Mudavadi, have been going round drumming up support for UDA candidates.
“The strength of any political party lies in the number of the elected leaders. We need more elected leaders in the Senate and the National Assembly …,” said Mr Mudavadi during inter-denominational prayers held in Tac Centre in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County, on Sunday to celebrate Jonathan Chelilim Bii and other UDA candidates who were picked in the primaries.
Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago, Kericho Senator Aron Cheruiyot and MPs Johana Ngeno (Emurua Dikirr) and Didmus Barasa (Kimilili) also drummed up support for the UDA candidates ahead of the August 9 polls.
“We will use all the resources at our disposal even if it means that we camp here to ensure that UDA candidates win the seats here. This is the home county of our presidential candidate and we will ensure that we have captured all seats,” declared Mr Ngeno.
Mr Barasa claimed independents could work to scuttle Dr Ruto’s plans if he wins the presidency.
In Uasin Gishu County, businessman Zekediah Bundotich Kiprop (Buzeki) is vying as an independent against Mr Bii.
MPs Swarup Mishra (Kesses), Silas Tiren (Moiben) and William Chepkut (Ainabkoi MP) are seeking re-election as independent candidates in an epic political duel in the North Rift region.
In Kesses, Mr Mishra will battle it out with former Uasin Gishu Finance executive Julius Ruto, who won the UDA ticket in the primaries.
In Turbo, Janet Sitienei, who was elected as an independent candidate in 2017 and is a staunch DP Ruto supporter, will defend the seat on a UDA ticket. She will battle out with Samson Mugo (Samkiz) of the Jubilee Party under the Azimio coalition.
In Moiben, Sila Tiren will defend his parliamentary seat as an independent after failing to participate in the party primaries. He will square it out with Prof Phyllis Bartoo, who bagged the UDA ticket.
In Nandi, Woman Rep Tecla Tum will contest as an independent against Josses Lelmengit of UDA after she lost in the party’s primaries.
She said she fully supports the DP’s presidency but will vie as an independent candidate because the party primaries were not free and fair. “There were individuals in our party at the county level who were determined to rig me out,” said Dr Tum in a past interview.
Outspoken Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter is also defending his seat as an independent after he was denied the UDA ticket despite being announced as winner in the contest. The party tribunal annulled his win over alleged irregularities. He will battle it out with Bernard Kitur, who was handed the party ticket.
Last week, aspirants who lost in the governor’s nomination race, led by former governor Cleopas Lagat, said they would back one individual as an independent to square it out with Governor Stephen Sang in August.
In Elgeyo-Marakwet, lawyer Kipchumba Murkomen, a close ally of the DP, is expected to square it out with Governor Alex Tolgos, who has announced that he will vie for the Senate seat on the Jubilee Party ticket.
In Marakwet West, lawyer Timothy Kipchumba, who lost to the incumbent William Kisang in the race for the UDA parliamentary ticket, is contesting as an independent candidate.
In Baringo, Governor Stanley Kiptis will defend his seat as an independent after he lost to predecessor Benjamin Cheboi in the UDA primaries.
In Mogotio constituency, MP Daniel Tuitoek will battle it out with newcomer Reuben Kiborek of UDA and Prof Hellen Sambili of Kanu, while in Baringo Central, speaker David Kerich (Dawa) will vie as an independent after he lost to the current MP Joshua Kandie in party primaries.
In Baringo North, Sammy Chelanga (Penge), who emerged second in the party primaries, will defend the seat as an independent and will face off with Joseph Makilap, who won the party ticket. Kanu’s Stephen Kipkebut is also in the race.
In Trans Nzoia, a fierce battle is expected for the Cherangany seat between incumbent MP Joshua Kutuny, also the Jubilee deputy secretary-general, and former athlete Wesley Korir, who bagged the UDA ticket in the primaries.
On Sunday, Nandi Governor Stephen Sang, who will defend his seat on a UDA ticket, called on residents to turn out in large numbers and support the DP in his quest for the presidency.