Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition presidential candidate Raila Odinga has brokered a deal between ex-Mungiki leader Maina Njenga and Laikipia Deputy Governor John Mwaniki that has seen the latter drop out of the Laikipia senatorial race in favour of the former.
Mr Njenga is seeking the seat under Kanu, while Mr Mwaniki was a Jubilee candidate.
Mr Odinga, who spoke in Nyahururu, said this was one way that Azimio could ensure that it fielded strong candidates in the August 9 polls.
“I will take Mr Mwaniki and work with him at the national level, while we leave Mr Njenga to contest the senatorial seat here in Laikipia,” Mr Odinga told the supporters of the two in Nyahururu town.
Other candidates who have thrown their hats into the ring under parties affiliated to Azimio are Julius Mamaiyo (ODM) and former Foreign Affairs PS Mwangi Thuita (Narc-Kenya).
Both Mr Mamaiyo and Mr Thuita were present during the Nyahururu rally, but leaders allied to the coalition said Mr Njenga and Mr Mwaniki had emerged as the strongest candidates in the race.
Mr Odinga said the coalition wants to deny their rivals in Kenya Kwanza a chance to win more seats.
“If we don't engage our constituent parties in the coalition to prevail on their candidates to step down in favour of popular candidates, then we might give our opponents a chance of sweeping more seats,” said Mr Odinga.
He pleaded with voters to only elect leaders affiliated to the Azimio coalition.
“Save me from trouble and give me people I can work with when we form the next government. Elect leaders who are allied to Azimio from governor, senator, MP, woman rep to MCAs because if you don’t do that I will have a hard time delivering my promises to you,” he said.
Mr Njenga and Mr Mwaniki had occasionally clashed during campaigns.
Mr Njenga had tried to have Mr Mwaniki step down in his favour, claiming opinion polls and research had shown that the former was more popular.
But Mr Mwaniki dismissed the claim, saying that the two were only separated by three points in the opinion polls.
Also in the race is the incumbent, Mr John Kinyua, who is defending his seat on a UDA ticket.
Speaking during the Nyahururu rally, Azimio running mate Martha Karua said the coalition will use recent opinion polls to identify popular candidates to fly the Azimio flag.
She hailed a recent decision by Narc-Kenya Laikipia gubernatorial candidate Gitonga Kabugi to drop out of the race in favour of Laikipia Governor Ndiritu Muriithi, who is seeking to retain his seat under Jubilee.
Ms Karua said Mr Kabugi and his running mate Nyokabi Njehia opted out of the race after consultations.
During the rally, Ms Karua came to the defense of Mr Thuita, the Narc-Kenya Senate hopeful, after rowdy youth shouted him down as he addressed the rally.
“You have given all the aspirants, including Mr Njenga, a chance to address you, you should also give Mr Thuita the same chance. I besieged you to respect everyone and listen to him,” said Ms Karua, who had risen from her seat as the youths tried to disrupt Mr Thuita’s speech.
But her pleas fell on deaf ears.
Eight contestants are seeking to wrestle the senator’s seat from Mr Kinyua.
In the DP’s Kenya Kwanza camp, apart from Mr Kinyua, are businessman John Kiama (TSP), Robert Ndung’u (ANC) and Henry Kimani of Moses Kuria’s Chama Cha Kazi.
The others are independent candidates Steve Chege and Jackson Thengei.