What you need to know:
- County senator position has so far attracted six contenders, including the incumbent.
- Mr Maina Njenga is planning to vie for the seat on a Kanu ticket just as he did in the 2017 elections.
Will it be second time lucky for former Mungiki leader Maina Njenga in his quest to become Laikipia County’s third senator?
Or will the reformed leader of the proscribed group fall by the wayside as he did in 2017 when he lost to Jubilee Party’s John Kinyua?
The jury is still out on the tight senatorial race, but what is clear is that the contest promises to be a veritable battle of titans.
With less than six months to the August 9 General Election, the race for the Senate seat is turning out to be a clash between Deputy President William Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA) and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s Azimio la Umoja movement.
On Monday, Mr Njenga launched his second stab at the seat. In the 2017 elections, his nomination papers were controversially rejected by the ruling party, prompting him to ditch Jubilee and vie on a Kanu ticket.
Mr Kinyua garnered 145,150 votes against Mr Njenga’s 53,177. But he alleged the electoral process was tampered with to give his competitor victory.
Endorsed for the seat
Mr Njenga, who plans to run on a Kanu ticket again, will face Senator Kinyua, an ally of DP Ruto who will defend the seat on a UDA ticket.
Other aspirants are former Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Mwangi Thuita (Jubilee), John Kiama (The Service Party), Henry Kimani (UDA) and Jane Ptunoi (UDA).
Mr Kimani and Ms Ptunoi served as Finance and Trade executives, respectively, in former governor Joshua Irungu’s administration.
While Mr Njenga seems to enjoy the support of Mr Odinga and Kanu chairman Gideon Moi, Senator Kinyua is backed by DP Ruto. Mr Kiama is a close ally of TSP leader Mwangi Kiunjuri, with the latter said to be funding his campaign.
On Monday, two sons of Dr Oburu Oginga, a member of the East Africa Legislative Assembly and brother to Mr Odinga, attended an event in Rumuruti where Mr Njenga launched his campaign. The two, Elijah Oburu and Jaoko Oburu, endorsed Mr Njenga for the seat.
“It’s a shame that 50 years since Kenya became independent, residents of Laikipia have never known peace but this will change if Maina Njenga and Raila Odinga are elected [senator and president respectively] in August,” Elijah said.
Mr Njenga also received a boost after James Githiri, a political adviser to Governor Ndiritu Muriithi, dropped his bid for the seat and backed him.
Mr Githiri, who vied for the seat in 2017 and was planning to do so again on a PNU ticket, said he had put aside his ambitions and would support Mr Njenga.
Addressing his supporters, Mr Njenga said he would have a seven-pillar vision for the county to address perennial insecurity, among other issues.
“I will work to bring together all communities living in Laikipia and come up with a lasting solution to the perennial bandit attacks. Peace in Laikipia can only be realised if the communities agree to live in peace and solve issues without resorting to enmity,” he said.
Mr Njenga also promised to push for the reinstatement of the National Police Reservists in the county if elected.