Joy, tears as big names lose to newcomers in UDA polls

Former Devolution Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter. He lost in the UDA primaries.

Big names lost in ongoing UDA nominations in various parts of the country as voters came out to punish incumbency and reward insurgent candidates.

The elections were also a mixed bag for supporters of Deputy President William Ruto who have been vocal against ODM leader Raila Odinga. A majority of those who have been hurling unprintable words against Mr Odinga were ejected by voters.

Women and youth candidates were the biggest winners, especially in Rift Valley, where they beat experienced and moneyed candidates to clinch the tickets. 

Maryanne Kitany

Maryanne Kitany (centre) addressing the press after being declared winner for UDA nominations in Aldai constituency.  //

Photo credit: Onyango K'Onyango | Nation Media Group

Several big names, including DP Ruto’s personal friend, Mr Charles Keter, the former Cabinet Secretary for Energy were defeated. UDA nominations took place on Thursday across the country though some contests have been postponed to Tuesday next week. Some areas that conducted the contests on Thursday were still tallying results by the time of going to press.

There were surprises such as in Bomet County where Linet Chepkorir, 24, defeated the incumbent Joyce Korir to bag the UDA ticket for the Woman rep position. Video clips of Ms Korir sobbing at the realisation of the unexpected flooded the social media along with the story of the less fancied Chepkorir, popularly known as Toto.

Cecily Mbarire

Nominated MP Cecily Mbarire addresses during Embu UDA gubernatorial nominations on April 15, 2022.

Photo credit: Charles Wanyoro | Nation Media Group

The nominations were also marked with tears and chaos as the losers accused their opponents and UDA party officials of mismanaging the primaries.

In places where the UDA party ticket guarantees one a win at the General Election, the political futures of the losers seem to be on hold for now though some threatened to resign from the party and run as independents, which they can do until May 8 when that window closes.

Mr Keter lost to university lecturer, Dr Eric Mutai, in the race to succeed outgoing Kericho Governor Paul Chepkwony. 

When he sat down for an interview in February a few days after he had resigned from the cabinet, Mr Keter had sought to distance himself from the ‘project’ tag his opponents had attached to him given his closeness to Mr Ruto.

“I am not a favourite, they are the favourites,” he said.

Elgeyo Marakwet Deputy Governor Wisley Rotich displays his UDA party ticket after trouncing former Inspector General of police Mr Joseph Boinnet in the race for the gubernatorial seat. 

Photo credit: Fred Kibor | Nation Media Group

As he was pushing for consensus in other regions outside his Rift Valley backyard, the DP kept off in his home turf forcing UDA supporters to make the decision through universal suffrage.

Once described as the "de facto spokesman" for Mr Ruto, many would have expected Soy MP Caleb Kositany to easily capture the UDA ticket to run for Uasin Gishu governor. But it was not to be. After enduring a challenging three weeks of campaigns during which he and others were questioned by the DCI for planning the attack on Mr Odinga in Kebenes, Uasin Gishu County, Mr Kositany trailed Mr Jonathan Bii, alias Koti Moja.

The former chairperson of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) Sarah Serem, who was also in the race to be next governor of Uasin Gishu, was also defeated. Former Nairobi County executive member Veska Kangogo was equally grossly underperforming in the race to be the next governor of Uasin Gishu County.

In Baringo County, incumbent Governor Stanley Kiptis trailed his predecessor Benjamin Cheboi who is making a comeback. Along with Mr Kiptis, Eldama Ravine MP Moses Lessonet who was also in the race lost.

In Elgeyo Marakwet, the former Inspector-General of Police Joseph Boinnet was one of the big casualties as he lost to current deputy governor Wisley Rotich, who will be hoping to take over from his boss, Mr Alex Tolgos, who is currently aligned to the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition.

Njoro MP Charity Kathambi (right) celebrates with her husband David Chepkwony after she won in the UDA party primaries.

Photo credit: Francis Mureithi | Nation Media Group

Deputy Speaker in the National Assembly Moses Cheboi met his match after dominating the Kuresoi North parliamentary seat for two terms when he was defeated by Mr Alfred Kipronoh Mutai, the MCA for Sirikwa Ward. 

Bomet County

In Bomet County, nominated senator Wilson Sossion and Senator Christopher Langat threatened to dump UDA and run as independents after they lost the chance to fly the UDA flag in the General Election. They were defeated by lawyer Hillary Sigei who now stands a good chance of representing Bomet County in the Senate.

Another big casualty was Naivasha MP Jayne Kihara who lost to former MP John Kihagi in what was the biggest shock in the primaries.

Ms Kihara is one of the closest allies of DP Ruto in the region and has been accompanying him on his campaign trail across the country.

Mrs Kihara had accused Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika of sponsoring opponents against her, but the latter denied. Mr Kihagi was considered an outsider when he decided to vie for the seat on a UDA ticket, a fact that he alluded to in his victory speech. "Nobody gave me a chance... even my ardent supporters discouraged such a move," he said. Mr Kihagi got 10,394 votes against Mrs Kihara 9,991.

Laikipia County

In Laikipia, Woman rep Catherine Waruguru who was eyeing

the Laikipia East parliamentary seat lost to the incumbent Amin Deddy. Ms Waruguru had long been seen as a favourite for the seat and she had even turned her attention to the General Election as she engaged in bitter exchanges with Mr Mwangi Kiunjuri of The Service Party (TSP), who is also vying for the position.

At the same time, former Laikipia Governor Joshua Irungu is hoping to recapture the seat he lost in 2017 to Governor Ndiritu Murithi after he floored Laikipia West MP Patrick Mariru for the right to fly the UDA flag. 

Kiambu County

In Ruiru, nominated senator Isaac Mwaura lost to incumbent Simon King’ara, though the former disputed the results and asked for a repeat. Mr Mwaura has been loyal to the party and Mr Ruto but even that was not enough to convince the UDA members to vote for him in the primaries.

At Kiambu Institute of Science and Technology that was the tallying centre for UDA, bribery and rigging claims were raised. Thika Town MP Patrick Wainaina wa Jungle claimed that he had been rigged out in favour of Kiambu Senator Kimani Wamatangi in the governor race and indicated that he could run as an independent.

“I thought UDA was a democratic party but it is unfortunate that they had their own pre-determined candidate for Kiambu seats. I want to assure my voters and supporters that my name will be on the ballot and I will communicate more about my directions in the next two days,’’ Mr Wainaina told reporters.

Former Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu, who was also in the race, performed dismally. 

Kajiado County

In Kajiado County, governor hopeful Peris Tobiko claimed foul play after provisional results showed her losing to Kajiado South MP Katoo ole Metito. She demanded a repeat of the nominations saying the exercise was bungled by party officials.

"It was not the people who voted. It was ballot papers that were stashed and counted. We have evidence of those sacks carrying marked ballot papers," said an agitated Ms Tobiko. 

Nyeri County

In Nyeri County, Tetu MP James Gichuhi lost to a newcomer Mwangi Wandeto, who garnered 8,511 votes against the incumbent’s 7,900 votes.

Three other ardent supporters of the deputy president also lost in the race for the UDA ticket. They are Cornelius Serem (Aldai), Dr Wilson Kogo (Chesumei) and Vincent Tuwei (Mosop).

Mr Serem, who is serving the second term, lost to former Chief of Staff in the Office of Deputy President Maryanne Kitany, who garnered 16,597 votes against her opponent’s 13,878 in one of the hotly contested races.

While making her victory speech after being handed the interim UDA certificate by returning officer Katam Charles, she said her win shows people are yearning for new leadership.

In Chesumei, the first-term MP Kogo was outsmarted by his 2017 rival Paul Pyego alias Polo in another fierce race. Mr Tuwei also lost to Abraham Kirwa who was making his debut in elective politics. 

Tharaka Nithi

In Tharaka Nithi, Woman rep Beatrice Nkatha lost to Beatrice Kathomi in the UDA primaries that were marred with chaos and rigging claims. Ms Kathomi garnered 49,327 while Ms Nkatha, a two-term legislator managed 23,860 votes.

Senatorial aspirant and former Tharaka Nithi Governor Samuel Ragwa lost to Mukothima ward representative Mwenda Gataya after he managed 33,742 against Gataya's 40,746 votes.

Addressing the media in Chuka town, Mr Ragwa and Ms Nkatha dismissed the exercise as shambolic, claiming that the votes were manipulated.

Mr Ragwa said rigging started on Wednesday evening at Chuka Igambang'ombe constituency tallying centre where youths were found marking ballot papers.

"This exercise was marred with rigging and the results that have been released do not reflect the will of the people," said Mr Ragwa.

At the same time, top celebrities, radio presenters and journalists were some of the biggest casualties in the primaries. Former Kameme FM presenter Njogu Wa Njoroge lost to incumbent Njoro MP Charity Kathambi.

Former Churchill Show comedian Jasper Muthomi, alias MC Jessy, was last week forced to drop his bid for the Imenti South Parliamentary seat on the UDA ticket following the intervention by Mr Ruto.

And then there is gospel artist Smith Mwatia, alias Rufftone, who also shelved his ambitions for the Nairobi senatorial seat, as well as environmentalist Anita Soina who decamped from the UDA party to the Green Thinking Action Party (GTAP).

By Onyango K'onyango, Walter Menya, Tom Matoke, Fred Kibor, Alex Njeru, Charles Wanyoro, George Munene, David Muchui, James Murimi, Stanley Ngotho, Silas Apollo and Mercy Mwende.


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